Here's a reason to be extra careful about what you say to employees regarding their pay: The Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) gives employees a way to collect on employers' promises about wages, even if those promises were never put in writing.
Employees who successfully sue under the WPCL can collect what they're owed, plus a bonus of 25 percent of the total amount due, or $500, whichever is greater.
Advice: To avoid legal trouble triggered by employees' "You promised me a raise!" assertions, make it a standard practice to notify employees in writing what their wages will be and how bonuses will be calculated and paid.
Recent case: Attorney Marla Welker worked for a law firm and had an oral agreement under which she was paid a percentage of the firm's gross revenues each year. When the law firm was sold, Welker found herself without a job.
She sued under the WPCL, reasoning that she was still entitled to part of the firm's revenues through the end of the year. The court agreed that the WPCL covered her oral wage agreement.
However, the court calculated that she'd been overpaid in an earlier year, which cancelled out what was due for the last year. (Welker v. Mychak, et al., No. 4221, Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia, 2006)