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In California, your employee rights and benefits are legally based on how you are classified by your employer. That may include being an exempt employee, non-exempt employee, or independent contractor. Because of these laws, employee misclassification is a serious problem throughout the state. When an employer intentionally or unintentionally misclassifies an employee, the affected employee may be entitled to back wages and other benefits under our specific laws.
If you believe you have been misclassified or are not being paid the overtime wages you are entitled to, contact our employment law attorneys today to discuss your unique circumstances, so we may pursue the compensation you are rightfully owed.
To Schedule a Free Case Evaluation, Contact E&L, LLP, at (213) 213-0000
What is the Difference Between an Exempt Employee, Non-Exempt Employee, and Independent Contractors in California?
Exempt employees are not defined by their job titles. Instead, an exempt employee’s duties must meet the requirements for one of the exemptions. The employee must be primarily engaged in exempt duties and receive a minimum salary that equals or exceeds a specified sum.
Each California Wage Orders contains exemptions for:
- Administrative Exemption Employees
- Executive Exemption Employees
- Professional Exemption Employees
Administrative Exemption Employees
A person employed in an administrative capacity generally means any employee who spends the majority of his or her work time:
- Exercising discretion and independent judgment
- Completing office work or non-manual work directly related to general business operations or management policies of the employer or the organization’s customers
Executive Exemption Employees
To classify an employee in an executive capacity, the employer must prove the employee:
- Customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment
- Directs the work of two or more other employees
- Is responsible for the management of the organization or of a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the business
- Has the authority to suggest and recommend employees for advancement, promotion, or firing, or is directly responsible for hiring, promoting, or firing employees
- Works full-time
- Is paid a salary that is twice the California minimum wage for full-time employment
Professional Exemption Employees
Professionally exempt employees are those who are primarily engaged in employment in one of the following recognized industries:
- Creative professionals engaged in a learned or artistic profession, like music, theater, or writing
Exempt Employees are not eligible to collect overtime wages.
Who Falls Under Non-Exempt Employee Status?
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt employees are guaranteed an hourly wage and overtime pay.
Non-exempt employees must:
- Not meet the requirements of exempt employees
- Earn at least the federal or state minimum wage for every hour worked
- Earn overtime pay for any amount of time exceeding 40 hours in a single workweek
Examples of non-exempt employees may include:
- Retail Associates
Since these employees still take direction from supervisors and do not have administrative or executive positions, they remain non-exempt even when they earn more than the federal minimum wage.
What is an Independent Contractor in California?
An independent contractor is an individual in business for himself or herself who typically performs work that requires a specialized trade or skill that is outside of the company’s regular business offerings.
- Perform work for multiple customers or clients
- Set their own fees
- Work from home or their own place of business
- Provide their own tools and equipment
- Determine how and when the work is to be done
While an independent contractor’s client provides the specifications and/or deadlines for the work in question, he, she, or they determine the amount of time and the way the job will be completed.
What is the Required Overtime Compensation Rate for Non-Exempt Employees in California?
When non-exempt employees work more than eight hours in a single workday or amass over forty hours in a single workweek, they must be paid one and one-half times their regular pay rate for the overage in time worked. When non-exempt employees must be paid double time, or twice as much as their regular wages when he or she works more than 12 hours in a single workday, or for hours worked over eight hours on the 7th day of the workweek.
Why Do Employers Fail to Pay Overtime Wages in California?
State and federal wage and hours laws protect employees from being taken advantage of by their employers. Often, the failure to pay overtime wages may be the result of an employer misclassifying the employee as exempt, whether they do so intentionally or unintentionally through the wrongful application of the complex tests prescribed under applicable laws or regulations. If you work in California and you feel that you are owed overtime compensation, contact our skilled employment law attorneys at E&L, LLP to determine whether you may qualify to pursue an unpaid overtime legal action.
Contact Us Today
If you believe you are being misclassified as an employee – either intentionally or unintentionally and are not receiving the compensation you are entitled to as a result, contact our experienced employment law attorneys at E&L, LLP today by calling (213) 213-0000 to schedule a free case evaluation and consultation.
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