Federal law dictates that certain occupations are exempt from overtime
law. These include those in certain professional occupations, such as
doctors or lawyers, or executive or administrative employees with the
power to manage others. Many California employers abide by these standards
in marking their workers as exempt from overtime pay. However, California
has their own standard that is far more specific and stringent. Any employer
in this state must abide by state employment laws as well as federal.
What are the two general conditions administrative employees must meet
to be exempt?
- You must have the ability to hire or fire other employees; and
- You must be able to exercise independent business judgment, also known
These conditions, however, relate to federal employment law as applied
in California. The standards for nonexempt workers and employees in the
state extend beyond administrative or executive duties. The standards
also include issues of pay and authority, as well as specific measurements
of how employees spend their time.
What Are the Standards for Nonexempt Workers?
Most people confuse the difference between applying
independent discretion and applying
skills and knowledge. The major difference between the two is independent discretion allows
an employee to choose how to work and
how hard to work. In general, skills are applied under supervision—the employee does
not get to decide
how to work, simply how to apply their knowledge.
The California standards for nonexempt workers means employees:
- Spend more than 50% of their time on exempt duties
- Typically employ discretion and independent judgment in performing duties
- Earn more than twice the California minimum wage on a salary basis
In other words, the employee is not exempt unless they “customarily
and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgement,” and
the amount of time that the employee devotes to work must involve this
at least 51% of the time.
When You Have an Employment Law Claim
If you are considered exempt from overtime pay by your employers, despite
failure to meet any of the previous conditions, you may have an
employment law claim. It is flat-out illegal for a California employer to deny you wages you
are entitled. If you are hesitatant to pursue a claim, know that the law
protects you from
retaliation for demanding rightful wages.
If you are interested in pursuing a claim against a current or past employer,
Alan Burton Newman, PLC is a Harvard-educated
Los Angeles overtime law attorney who has helped hundreds of employees receive their just pay from
wage & hour claims. Our firm handles cases entirely over the phone or email, so your claim
can be resolved without you ever having to drive out to the office. As
a result, the firm handles cases from all over Los Angeles County and
If you are not sure if you have a case, we offer free case consultations
to help clarify your situation.
Contact Alan Burton Newman today!
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