It is essential to know whether an employer in California has properly classified their employees as exempt or non-exempt because there are certain wage and hour laws which are only applicable to non-exempt employees. For example, non-exempt employees are entitled to a minimum wage, meal breaks and rest breaks, and eligible for overtime pay. Unlike non-exempt employees, properly classified exempt employees are exempt from laws governing minimum wages, overtime wages, meal breaks, and rest breaks.
Sometimes employers intentionally or mistakenly misclassify employees as exempt even when more than 50% of the employee’s work involves non-exempt tasks and/or the employee does not meet the minimum yearly income threshold for exempt employee status. If this occurs, your employer may owe you unpaid wages. Speak with the leading employment lawyers at Blackstone Law to assess the details of your potential claim. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to recover damages such as unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime wages, unpaid meal premiums for missed or late meal breaks, and/or other losses.
What Is an Exempt Employee in California?
Exempt employees are exempt from overtime pay requirements and some meal and rest break provisions. To qualify as exempt, employees must meet specific criteria established by federal and state laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the California Labor Code.
Minimum Salary Requirement for Exempt Employees
To satisfy California’s salary requirements, employers must pay a minimum monthly salary double the state’s minimum wage for full-time employment for exempt employees. The salary must be a predetermined amount that is not subject to reduction based upon the quantity or quality of the employee’s work.
Exempt Professional Categories
There are certain professional categories that are typically classified as exempt:
- Administrative: Job function relates to management or business operations, which may include accounting, human resources, and marketing jobs.
- Executive: Job function related to a leadership role, which may entail employees working under them. These employees often have the power to hire and terminate employees within an organization.
- Professional: Licensed, learned, and creative professionals which may include lawyers, doctors, engineers, and teachers.
This list is not exhaustive of all the potential jobs that may be properly classified as exempt. If you suspect you are misclassified as an exempt employee, speak with an employment lawyer at Blackstone Law to discuss your legal options.
What Is a Non-Exempt Employee in California?
Non-exempt employees, including salaried employees, must receive overtime wages for working over the standard 40-hour workweek or 8-hour workday, and must receive legally compliant meal breaks and rest breaks.
Non-exempt employees must earn at least the minimum wage in California, which is $15.50 per hour (as of January 1, 2023). Employers are responsible for maintaining accurate records of hours worked and wages paid. These records are vital for compliance with state and federal regulations and may be subject to inspection.
California law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees 1.5 times their regular rate of pay when any of the following occur:
- Work in excess of 8 hours a day
- The first 8 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.
Additionally, non-exempt employees are entitled to 2 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday and for all hours worked in excess of 8 hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.
If you have worked overtime and do not believe you received overtime wages, the lawyers at Blackstone Law will help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Legally Compliant Meal Breaks and Rest Breaks
Non-exempt employees in California are entitled to meal breaks and rest breaks during their shifts. If you work more than 5 hours during a shift, your employer must permit you to take 30 minutes of an uninterrupted meal break. This first meal break should be taken before the end of your fifth hour of work. You are also entitled to a second 30-minute uninterrupted meal break if you work over 10 hours during a shift. Non-exempt employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked.
Speak With the Leading Employment Lawyers at Blackstone Law
If you were wrongfully misclassified as an exempt employee, the employment lawyers at Blackstone Law are prepared to handle all aspects regarding your potential claim. We aggressively represent your best interests, from initial consultation to resolution.