Friday, May 18, 2018

Liquidated Damages in Pennsylvania Wage Cases

The Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) provides some nice perks for employees who successfully sue for unpaid wages. For example, successful plaintiffs receive mandatory attorneys fees.

The WPCL also has a liquidated damages provision. Employees are entitled to their wages, plus an additional 25% of the wages due. 43 P.S. § 260.10. Employers can avoid liquidated damages where there is a "good faith contest or dispute."

The Legal Intelligencer has an interesting case summary for Yablonski v. Keevican Weiss Bauerle & Hirsch, LLC (subscription). The employer paid back some of the money it allegedly owed prior to trial (where they lost), and then argued that the repaid money should be excluded from the liquidated damages calculation. The Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas apparently disagreed:
Relying on 43 P.S. §260.10, the court concluded that plaintiff's wages remained unpaid for 30 days beyond the regularly scheduled payday. The plain meaning of the language in the statute called for calculating liquidated damages utilizing the total wages due 30 days beyond the payday, and not at the time of trial.
It's helpful for employers to understand the potential penalties under the WPCL, although this decision is not binding on other trial courts.