Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Comparing Pennsylvania's State Overtime Law, the Minimum Wage Act, with its Federal Counterpart, the Fair Labor Standards Act

Are All Employees Presumed to be Entitled to Overtime Unless Specifically Identified as an “Exempt” Employee Under State a Federal Overtime Laws?

Yes.  The presumption under state and federal law is that all employees are entitled to overtime. However, each statute lists certain jobs that are considered to be exceptions to this general rule; if you have such a job you are not entitled to overtime – i.e. are an “exempt” employee.

Don't Forfeit Your Hard-Earned Overtime Pay!
How and Where Can I Find Pennsylvania’s Overtime Law and the Federal Overtime Law and What Are the Differences Between Them?

Pennsylvania’s overtime law is codified in the Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Act, 43 P.S. §§ 331.101, et seq. (“PMWA”) and regulations. (34 Pa. Code §§ 231.1, et seq.).  

Although the PMWA is substantially similar to the federal overtime law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. (“FLSA”), the PMWA provides greater overtime rights than does the FLSA in a number of important situations.

Does My Employer Have to Follow Pennsylvania’s Overtime Law if it is Different from the Federal Overtime law?

Yes, it does.

Pennsylvania employers must follow the PMWA and its companion regulations even if these are more generous to employees than those found in the FLSA. Indeed, Section 218 of the FLSA, and its companion regulation found at 29 C.F.R. §541.4 specifically state that federal law does not affect enforcement of state overtime requirements, such as those set forth in the PMWA:

29 C.F.R. §541.4 - Other laws and collective bargaining agreements.

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides minimum standards that may be exceeded, but cannot be waived or reduced. Employers must comply, for example, with any Federal, State or municipal laws, regulations or ordinances establishing a higher minimum wage or lower maximum workweek than those established under the Act.

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29 U.S.C. §218(c)(2)  No Limitation on Rights

Nothing in this section shall be deemed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of any employee under any Federal or State law or under any collective bargaining agreement. The rights and remedies in this section may not be waived by any agreement, policy, form, or condition of employment.

Where and How Can I Find a List of Exemptions Under the Federal Overtime Law and Under Pennsylvania’s Overtime Law?

FLSA’s exemptions are found at 29 U.S.C. §213.  After stating that employees who fill Administrative, Professional or Executive positions are exempt, section 213 then lists a number of specific jobs that are deemed to be exempt.

You Cannot Sign Away
Your Right to Overtime Pay
If I Signed an Agreement Saying I Agreed That I Would Not Be Paid Overtime, Did I Waive My Right to Overtime?

As set forth in the FLSA Section 218(c), above, an employee way not be required to waive his/her right to overtime, and any written agreement purporting to effectuate such a waiver is null and void.  The PMWA similarly forbids waiver. 

Can I Get Overtime Under My State’s Law Even if I Am Not Entitled to Overtime Because I am Exempt Under the Federal Overtime Law, the FLSA? 

Yes, you can.  As set forth by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court in its 2009 decision in  Bayada Nurses, Inc. v. Pa. DOL:

As has been long-established in Pennsylvania jurisprudence, interpretations of the federal FLSA provide guidance to Pennsylvania courts for construction of the MWA only when the MWA contains the same (or at the very least similar) language as the FLSA.

Comparing the Differences Between Exemptions for Overtime Found in Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Act’s Overtime with Those Found Within the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime Law

One must parse through the relevant exemptions to determine whether any given job is found one or both of the exemption lists.  However, there are some differences.

For example, FLSA specifically exempts “computer employees,” while PMWA contains no such exemption. Hence, if you do any one of a variety of computer-based jobs and work in Pennsylvania, you are entitled to overtime under the PMWA, even though you are not so entitled under FLSA.

Has Identified Differences Between PMWA and FLSA
 Does Pennsylvania’s Overtime Law Make Salaried Employees Exempt from Overtime Like the Federal Overtime Law?

No, it does not.  Unlike its federal counterpart, Pennsylvania does not allow an employer to withhold overtime pay just because an employee earns a certain salary.  The salary issue can be complicated, but in general the PMWA is more helpful to employees than is the FLSA.

Helping Pennsylvania Workers With Overtime Issues Since 1991

Philadelphia Area Overtime Attorney Helping Employees with Overtime Claims

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents claimants in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents workers who need an employment lawyer throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including those working in Philadelphia County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, Berks County and Lancaster County.

Pennsylvania Overtime Lawyer Provides Free Telephone Consultations and Contingent Fee Representation

If you believe you require guidance concerning an Overtime issue, and reside in or near Southeastern Pennsylvania, feel free to send me an e-Mail or give me a call.  I have represented workers who live or are employed in or near Reading, Bryn Mawr, Devon, West Chester, Philadelphia, Allentown, Bethlehem, Lancaster, Levittown, Limerick, Abington, Allentown, Collegeville, Downingtown, Blue Bell, Eagleville, Norristown, Springfield, Drexel Hill, Oaks, Doylestown, Coatesville, Lionville, Newtown Square, Broomall, Aston, Avondale, Media, Norristown, Cheltenham, Chester Springs, Audubon, Ambler, Chadds Ford, Berwyn, Malvern, Paoli, Manayunk, Roxborough, Havertown, Haverford, Lansdowne, Lansdale and Villanova.

Need an Experienced Lawyer to Help You With an Overtime Exemption Issue?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

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