California’s labor laws require employers to comply with certain state mandates governing employee rights like paying overtime and providing meal and rest breaks. Exempt employees, on the other hand, have jobs that are not subject to these labor laws. Employees must meet specific requirements to be considered exempt. An employer, however, might unlawfully misclassify an employee as exempt to save money (or perhaps even innocently due to ignorance of the law). This could result in serious consequences. If you think that your employer has misclassified you illegally, make sure to contact a California lawyer experienced in employment law.
In order for you to be considered an exempt employee, three criteria must be met:
- Your salary must be at least twice the California minimum wage for full-time employment;
- Your work duties must primarily consist of administrative, executive, or professional tasks; and
- Your work duties require you to use discretion and independent judgment.
There are also several complete and partial exemptions that apply to specific job categories: e.g., physicians, teachers, computer professionals, or union workers to name a few. Employers can only claim an exemption when an employee meets all of the criteria for the standard. If there is confusion or disagreement regarding the employer’s claim over an employee’s exempt status, the law presumes that the employee is classified as nonexempt and entitled to the broader wage and hour rights.
Some employers, however, intentionally and egregiously misclassify their employees as exempt. One consequence of such misclassification is to deprive employees of overtime wages. A nonexempt employee in California has the right to be paid overtime should he or she work more than 8 hours a day, or 40 hours a week. If an employee is misclassified as exempt, that employee misses out on the extra wages due for working those additional overtime hours. Another problem an employee might deal with should he or she be misclassified as exempt is missed meal and/or rest breaks. California labor laws require nonexempt employees to get meal and rest breaks. For employees misclassified as exempt, the employer may likewise fail to provide required meal and rest breaks.
Remember, it is illegal for a California employer to misclassify an employee as exempt. Should the employer not follow the set criteria required to claim an employee as exempt, the employer could face serious monetary consequences including back pay, legal costs, and penalties. Don’t allow your employer to take advantage of your misclassification. If you believe you have been misclassified as exempt, contact the lawyers at CounselOne. Our team of lawyers have years of experience navigating complex California employment laws. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.