How do I know if I’m properly classified as “Exempt”?

06 Mar How do I know if I’m properly classified as “Exempt”?

California law presumes that an employee should be non-exempt, and the burden is placed on the employer claiming the exemption to demonstrate that the exemption applies to its employee by showing that the employee fits plainly and unmistakably within the exemptions’ terms. It is a mixed question of law and fact, but again, the burden is on the employer, and California law is more protective than federal law on this issue.

There are several categories of exempt employees addressed within the California wage and hour laws. Each of those categories of employees must meet certain criteria to qualify under the category. All of them use what is called the “primarily engaged in” test, which is that if you are primarily engaged in duties that meet the test of the exemption, then you could be considered an exempt employee. Primarily engaged means more than 50% of the work that you do falls within the exemption.

One of the more common exemptions is the executive, administrative and professional employees exemption. To be exempt under this category, you have to be primarily engaged in duties that meet the test of the exemption, which are established by a wage order. To be exempt under this exemption, you have to customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment in performing those duties. Also, you have to earn a monthly salary that is equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full time employment. It’s a somewhat complicated analysis because it’s mostly a fact-specific analysis. But, the main criteria to consider is whether you are primarily engaged in exempt duties.

The idea is this: If you are an employee working at a restaurant, or working in a job that pays you by the hour, and you don’t make more than twice the minimum wage, then you don’t really manage people, and you don’t exercise independent judgments; you basically have a supervisor or manager that tells you what to do. Then, you should be protected under the wage and hour laws in California. You should be able to get minimum wage pay and overtime pay, and other protections that are provided by the California labor code.

If you believe that your employer has wrongfully classified you as an exempt employee, contact an employment lawyer today at the Khadder Law Firm for a free initial consultation.