How Do I Know If I'm Exempt from Overtime?

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?

  1. You must have the ability to hire or fire other employees; and
  2. You must be able to exercise independent business judgment, also known as discretion.

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 hesitant 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 Ventura County.

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!