The California Labor Code and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provide broad protections for employees in California. Most of the workforce is California is classified as non-exempt. Most of the overtime and wage protections provided by the Labor Code and FLSA directly address non-exempt employees. However, there is also a classification of "exempt" employees, to whom a different set of rules may apply. The classification of an employee as exempt versus non-exempt is incredibly important, and employers are often caught improperly classifying employees as exempt.
Non-exempt employees enjoy broad state and federal protections, including: (1) the highest minimum wage dictated by the federal, state, or local government; (2) 8 hour workdays and 40 hour work weeks; (3) overtime when they work past 8 hours in a day; and (4) mandatory breaks. Unfortunately, the "exempt" in exempt employee means they are not guaranteed these same protections.
Employers that classify employees as exempt must do so incredibly carefully. This is because the government and the courts take a skeptical view of this classification. The employee must be clearly and "unmistakable" identifiable as exempt.
To qualify as exempt, the employee must meet the following requirements: (1) must be a salaried employee; (2) the monthly salary of the employee must be double the California minimum wage; and (3) the employee's position must fall within the specific description of several "white collar" groupings.
While the actual requirements are far more exclusive and specific, here is a simple descriptions of exempt groups:
- Executive. The employee must be a manager who directs other employees and has hiring/firing power.
- Administrative. These employees must spend the majority of their time performing office work that directly serves administrative and business operation functions.
- Computer Professional. There is an overtime exemption for employees who spend the majority of their time working on computer networks, hardware, or software, and are afforded independence and discretion in their position.
- Salesperson. There is an exemption for an in-house salesperson who makes more than 1.5 times the minimum wage and whose compensation consists mostly of commissions. In addition, there is an exemption for salespeople who spend the majority of their time outside of the office and are involved in the sale of goods and services.
Contact Moss Bollinger
Employees have broad protections under state and federal law. This is especially true of non-exempt employees. However, if you believe you have been improperly classified as an "exempt" employee, call us. The team at Moss Bollinger has been fighting for employees since 2008 and may be able to help you. We charge no fees up front. Call us today at 800-249-1175 for a free consultation or complete our online form.