Superior Court: Mandatory Use of Payroll Debit Cards Violates PA Law
November 9, 2016
By Adam Long
As regular readers of our blog know, we have been following a pending class action lawsuit challenging a Pennsylvania employer’s use of payroll debit cards to pay its employees. There has been a key development in that case. The Pennsylvania Superior Court has issued a decision that affirmed that the employer at issue violated the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) by requiring employees to accept their wages on a payroll debit card, rather than in cash or by check.
In Siciliano v. Mueller, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Superior Court noted that the Wage Payment and Collection Law authorizes payment of wages only “in lawful money of the United States or check.” The Court concluded that the mandatory use of payroll debit cards that may subject users to fees was not consistent with the “plain language” of the WPCL. While the Court noted that “[t]he use of a voluntary payroll debit card may be an appropriate method of wage payment,” it confirmed that mandatory use of cards that may trigger fees is not under current Pennsylvania law.
Unless and until the Superior Court’s decision is overturned or the General Assembly amends the WPCL to expressly authorize payment of wages via payroll debit cards that may trigger fees, their use in Pennsylvania presents risk for employers, particularly if employers do not give employees other options to receive their wages. Pennsylvania employers should consider these risks when determining whether and to what extent they wish to use payroll debit cards, at least until the law is changed.