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Balancing the Scales

by | Jul 26, 2020 | Firm News |

When an employee earns compensation, whether it be salary, bonuses, commissions, or even a fringe benefits, the employer is legally obligated to pay the employee. But despite this obligation, some employers fail to pay their employees that which is owed. The motivating factor is sometimes greed, more often it is financial difficulty in the business, and a desire to renegotiate a deal so that the employee shares in the pain that the employer is experiencing. There is often intense pressure on the employee to “take it or leave it,” the alternative being an adversarial relationship with the employer. Pennsylvania law recognizes the inherent inequality of bargaining power in this situation, and to balance the scales, it has armed employees with the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 P.S. §260.1 et seq. Under this law, if an employee successfully demonstrates that an employer has wrongfully withheld wages due to the employee, in addition to the recovery of the wages themselves, the Court is also authorized to award liquidated damages in an amount of up to 25% of the unpaid wages. In addition, the Court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, a remedy that ordinarily would not be available in a simple breach of contract lawsuit filed by the employee. Finally, and very importantly, claims under the Wage Payment and Collection Law may be maintained, not only against the company, but also against individuals involved in the ownership or management of the company who have acted as decision makers in failing to pay the wages. If your employer balks at paying you what you have earned, you should promptly contact legal counsel to determine whether the PA Wage Payment and Collection Law applies to your situation.

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