Legislation Protecting Workers’ Rights in PA: A Broad Overview
Law governing workers’ rights in PA is as complex and detailed as any other body of law. If you believe your rights as an employee have been or are being violated by an employer, you should not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Thomas More Holland for personalized advice and assistance. We offer the following broad overview, however, to raise your awareness of some specific work laws in PA that protect your rights.
Your Right to Avoid Discrimination
The Human Relations Act protects workers rights’ in PA by prohibiting employers’ discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age (for workers age 40 and older), sex, national origin, non-job related disability, known association with a disabled individual, possession of a diploma based on passing a general education development test, or willingness or refusal to participate in abortion or sterilization. Employers may not deny equal opportunity to employment, compensation, or promotion, and may not retaliate against individuals who file a complaint under the act.
Your Right to Wages
The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act establishes a fixed minimum wage and overtime rate. Currently, the hourly minimum wage in PA is $7.25. In March 2016, however, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for employees under the governor’s jurisdiction to $10.15. PA law gives workers who have worked more than 40 hours in one week the right to overtime pay at a rate of one and a half times their normal wage. Neither state nor federal law, however, requires overtime pay for any salaried executive, administrative, or professional employee.
Your Right to Information
Pennsylvania’s Personnel File Inspection Act grants employees the right to inspect certain portions of their employment records upon request, at reasonable times. Employees can see the information their employers use to determine qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination or disciplinary action. (The act does not permit employees to review information regarding the investigation of possible criminal offenses; letters of reference and documents used in civil, criminal or grievance procedures; or medical records.) Although workers may not copy the file or remove it from the premises, they have the right to take notes. Employers must allow sufficient time for employees’ inspection, but may require it take place in the presence of a designated official, and may limit such review to once a year.
Your Right to Workers’ Compensation
Since 1915, PA has protected workers’ rights to receive compensation for work-related injuries and disease through the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Generally speaking, any employer in PA with at least one employee who could be injured or develop a work-related disease must provide workers’ compensation insurance. Workers receive this employer-financed, no-fault coverage starting the first day on the job. Injured workers must notify employers of their injury within 21 days to receive retroactive benefits; however, they do not lose their right to receive benefits unless they fail to report the injury within 120 days. The statute of limitations for a workers’ compensation case is three years.
Your Rights if Terminated
Pennsylvania observes the “at-will” doctrine of employment, meaning employers may terminate employment for any legal reason or no reason. Workers’ rights in PA are still protected, however, when employment is terminated. These rights can include the right to unemployment benefits and health insurance coverage as part of the employer’s group plan through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). In addition, workers retain the right to bring wrongful termination suits.
Thomas More Holland: Protecting Workers’ Rights in PA
Again, exceptions and exclusions to employment law in PA abound. At the Law Offices of Thomas More Holland, we vigorously safeguard our clients’ best interests and ensure their ability to exercise all their PA workers’ rights fully. If you believe your employer has violated your rights, contact us. We will investigate your claim, determine whether you have a case, explain your options, and help you take the next steps to see justice done.