What Are My Employment Rights in Pennsylvania?

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What Are My Employment Rights in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania provides certain employment rights to every Pennsylvania employee. Federal, state, and local laws obligate employers to protect employee rights in the workplace. Employment rights include many areas of employment such as wages, hours, discrimination, and safety.

Every employee should know their employment rights. When a worker doesn’t know their employment rights, he or she may be unaware that their employer is taking advantage of their rights. The law is clear on employee rights. And when an employer violates the law, an employee can pursue legal action against their employer.

Pennsylvania Employment Rights

At-Will Employment

Employees and employers are bound only by will and not contract. At any time, the employment relationship can be ended by either party. Unless an employee is fired due to discrimination, an employer is permitted to terminate an employee at any time. And an employee can leave whenever they desire unless under contract.

Access to Personnel File

Once a year, employees can request to see their personnel file, but the timing must be convenient for the employer as well. This employment right is available to any employee, whether full time, part time,  temporary, or permanent. Employees can then see what has been recorded about them and check for inaccuracies.

Minimum Wage

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage links to information from the Consumer Price Index, and the minimum wage is re-evaluated every year. The goal is to adjust minimum wage with inflation. Currently, since 2008, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Meanwhile, tipped employees are governed by a different standard, but their tips should make up any difference between their hourly wage and the Pennsylvania minimum wage.

Overtime Wages

Pennsylvania workers who work more than 40 hours in a week and are not exempt receive overtime pay. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Pennsylvania law, overtime wages are one and a half time the normal wage. Some occupations do not receive overtime wages even if workers work over the 40 hours in a workweek. Employees exempt from overtime do not receive overtime wages.

Employment Discrimination

According to Pennsylvania employment laws, no employee can be discriminated against due to gender, race, religion, disability, age, or national origin. Harassment or discrimination against any worker for one of these reasons is illegal. The law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees during any of the employment process, whether hiring, promoting, or firing.  In the event of employment discrimination, reach out to an employment lawyer to learn the legal options available.

Unpaid Leave

While neither the federal government nor Pennsylvania state obligates employers to offer paid leave to employees, the federal law does require that in certain situations employers give employees unpaid work leave. The most common reasons for unpaid leave are military leave, family and medical leave, or jury duty leave. The federal laws that provide these employment rights to workers are Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights (USERRA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Workplace Safety

Pennsylvania requires that employers provide a safe working environment for employees. Employers also must train employees according to industry standards and ensure the right safety equipment is available. In the event of unsafe working conditions, employees reserve the right to ask for an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection. Federal and Pennsylvania law protects employees from retaliation or termination for complaining of dangerous working conditions.

Workers’ Compensation

Pennsylvania employers usually have workers’ compensation insurance to provide for employees who suffer any on-the-job injury. When an employee sustains an injury while at work, that employee is entitled to file for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation extends monetary support for the injured employee in the realm of wages, medical treatment, rehabilitation, and other benefits.

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What Do I Do When My Boss Violates My Employment Rights?

Pennsylvania law created a system to guide employees when they’re seeking legal justice for employment rights violation. Depending on the violation, a different part of the government handles filed complaints from employees. Therefore, research your employee rights in depth and ensure that your complaint arrives at the right desk.

1. Seek Resolution

Read your company handbook. In many situations, employers have handbooks that outline how certain situations should be handled in-house. Follow the instructions for filing a complaint within your company. However, be sure to file your complaint with a neutral third party in the event of discrimination or harassment.

2. Document Evidence

To prove the violation of employment rights, employees need to be proactive in documenting incidents where the violation may have occurred. Keep the records filed outside of the workplace. But, beware, recording a conversation without the express permission of all parties is illegal in Pennsylvania.

3. Consult a Lawyer

When you’ve done everything you can within the company and no satisfying result has occurred to address the violation of your employment right, contact a lawyer. An employment lawyer understands the nuances of the law and knows your employment rights. Depending on your situation, a lawyer will know the best way to pursue your rights under the law.


If you have experienced a violation of your employment rights, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or lawyer@lawkm.com.