What's the Difference Between an Exempt and Non-Exempt Employee in California?
The state of California classifies all employees into two distinct categories: exempt and non-exempt. While many people often misconstrue this concept to mean "salaried" employees versus "non-salaried" employees, the status of exempt versus non-exempt has nothing to do with whether or not you are a salaried employee.
California labor laws require most employers to adhere to specific rules that govern things like paying overtime, providing meal breaks, and tracking hours. However, some jobs may be exempt from these requirements. These are the jobs that use the exempt classification, meaning they are not subject to some or all of these wage and hour laws. In most cases, there are three requirements that determine whether a worker is an exempt employee or not. Exempt employees typically meet the following requirements:
- Minimum Salary - The employee must be paid a salary that is at least twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
- Independent Judgment - The employee's job duties must involve some level of discretion and independent judgment (e.g. an attorney who implements a certain legal strategy after considering competing courses of action).
- White-Collar Duties - The employee's primary duties must fall within the scope of administrative, executive, or professional tasks.
Providing Legal Counsel You Can Trust
Understanding the nature of these employment laws and how they impact your case will be crucial to pursuing the best possible outcome for your situation. Wood Litigation, APC works collaboratively with clients to ensure that they understand the unique circumstances of their case before outlining an aggressive legal strategy aimed at achieving a favorable result. If you or someone you know is facing legal action over a wage or hours dispute or exemption status, reach out to Wood Litigation, APC today to schedule a case evaluation.
Misclassification Claims Based on Independent Contractor Status
One of the biggest issues in California labor law right now is misclassification of workers as independent contractors, and Wood Litigation, APC is at the cutting edge of the discussion. Wood Litigation, APC has successfully defended employers alleged to have misclassified workers in San Francisco Bay Area courts.
Wood Litigation, APC is well-versed in the case law dealing with classification of workers as independent contractors and very well-versed in the new statute known as AB5, which seeks to raise the bar. But, AB5 does not require all workers be classified as employees.
Wood Litigation, APC has been advising employers on when they can and cannot classify a worker as an independent contractor and defending employers from wage and hour claims based on misclassification for many years with success. Employers who have been classifying workers as independent contractors who have questions, or who are facing claims, should contact the firm.
Misclassification Claims Based on Exempt Status
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, exempt employers from paying minimum wage and overtime pay for several categories of workers: executive, administrative, professional and outside sales consultants.
With regard to wage-and-hour issues, employers that violate the statutory requirements because they, for example, misclassified a worker, can face expensive, damaging lawsuits. The claims of numerous, similarly-affected employees may even result in class action or a private attorney general action (PAGA).
Greg and the attorneys at WLAPC have successfully litigated on behalf of employers who are claimed to have misclassified workers as exempt. In one case, Wood Litigation, APC attorneys marshalled evidence that showed that the worker exercised considerable discretion in support of the argument that the worker was properly classified as an exempt worker. In another case, our attorneys were able to show the plaintiff was simply not credible with respect to his hours worked, killing the worker’s minimum wage and overtime claims.
Wage and hour laws are complicated and the rules governing exempt status add to the complexity. There are many cases, based on many different case facts, that in some instances give conflicting guidance. Employers must hire attorneys that are aware of the nuisances and can use that to the employer’s advantage to beat employee claims. Wood Litigation, APC attorneys have that knowledge and the experience needed to win.
Often wage and hour claims are on behalf of a class, or the path of less resistance, as a Private Attorney General Action otherwise known as PAGA. The attorneys at Wood Litigation, APC are well versed in class action and PAGA standards. The team has had success in defeating class certification and further had success in beating PAGA claims.