My employer requires me to work more than forty hours per week, but says I’m not entitled to overtime. Is this legal in Pennsylvania?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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As a general matter, a salaried employee is exempt from overtime pay in Pennsylvania. However, salaried employees may be entitled to overtime pay if the employment contract includes provisions for it. Further, just because your employer labels you as “salaried” or exempt doesn’t mean it’s a correct classification. If your lawyer has classified you improperly, then you could also be considered eligible for overtime payments. 

Understanding Overtime

Employees who are exempt from the overtime law include executives, administrators, supervisors, or those who are in a managerial position. If you do not fall within this category, and your employer classifies you as an exempt salaried employee and thus not eligible for overtime, this may actually be a violation of wage and hour laws and may result in you being owed back pay. In other words, an employer cannot just label salaried employees exempt if you are doing an entry-level hourly job in order to avoid paying you the overtime you are entitled to under the law.

If you are incorrectly classified, it is possible for you to make a claim for back pay for the money that was not paid to you. Employees entitled to overtime are generally paid overtime at a rate of time and a half, if they work more than 40 hours in a week in Pennsylvania. There is no regulation concerning how many hours you can work in a day, so you could work, for example, 10 hours one day and six the next and not be paid overtime as long as you don’t go over 40 hours in one week. However, your employer is not allowed to have you work 45 hours one week and 35 the next and not pay you overtime. 

It is also important to note that when there is a discrepancy between federal and state rules, Pennsylvania rules are enforced. For example, federal rules allow an employer to limit the number of overtime hours if an employee earns more than $100,000 a year. This does not apply to employees in Pennsylvania. Another example concerns computer employees. Federal law does not require overtime for them but Pennsylvania law does, so overtime is paid to computer employees in Pennsylvania.    

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