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“Exempt” vs. “Non-exempt” in the California Workplace

April 15, 2010

Employee misclassification in the Southern California workplace is a frequent and growing problem in regard to violations of minimum wage and overtime payments, meal periods and rest breaks, tax responsibilities, and employee benefits, along with other federal and state employment laws and regulations, and can lead to wage and hour class action lawsuits, and hefty fines and penalties for employers if a classification is incorrectly assigned.

In the state of California, employees are generally classified as either non-exempt employees or exempt employees. Most non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA), which is one and a half (1 ½) times their regular hourly pay rate when they work more than 40-hours in a work week. Time and a half is also required when employees work more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive work day in a week. For all hours worked over twelve in a day, employers must pay double time the regular rate, as well as double time beyond the eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday in a week. Employers often miscalculate how much overtime workers are actually owed, when working past a 40 hour work week.

Misclassification of employees can happen when an employer classifies an employee erroneously as "exempt," meaning that the employee is not entitled to overtime pay or other wage and hour benefits that are usually available to non-exempt employees. Often employee misclassification happens when an employee is directed to work in such a way that causes the employee who has been properly classified as exempt to lose his exempt status, like when employers deduct missed work time from the employee's salary, which could entitle the employee for overtime pay.

If an employee has been improperly classified, that worker may be entitled to overtime compensation--payment that the employee should have received during the statute of limitations period as well as penalties, interest, and the cost of legal fees.

If your overtime hours are not being paid, or feel your job has been misclassified as being exempt from overtime laws, your employer could be violating California law. Contact our experienced labor and employment attorneys at Howard Law, PC to help clarify California exemption laws, and determine your rights to overtime pay in the workplace.

Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor: Exemptions, United States Department of Labor

Misclassification of Workers as "Independent Contractors" Rebuffed by the California Court of Appeal, California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, (DLSE)

Independent Contractor Versus Employee, California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)

Related Web Resources:

California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR): The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DSLE)