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The Difference Between Exempt and Nonexempt Employees in California

Posted on July 14, 2023 in Employment Law

If you are a worker in California, it is critical to understand your rights under the state’s law. One of the more confusing aspects is the difference between exempt and nonexempt employees in California. There have been a number of class action lawsuits brought in recent years over misclassification and what that misclassification has cost those employees. If you believe your rights were violated, we encourage you to contact the San Diego employee misclassification attorney at Walker Law to learn how we can help you.

Here is the bottom line. Some employees are “nonexempt” under the employment laws in California. That means they may have rights that exempt employees do not. Most employees fall under nonexempt. That means that all of the state’s employment laws apply, including laws related to taking breaks, overtime pay, and tracking hours.

What is an Exempt Employee?

An exempt employee is a person who has a job that is not subject to one of the wage and hour laws. There are various aspects of this law, and it can become quite confusing.

Most of the time, there are three requirements that can help determine if a worker is considered exempt or not.

#1: Salary Minimums

An exempt employee must have a minimum monthly salary of at least two times as much as the state’s minimum wage for those working full-time. For example, a person being paid a salary instead of being paid hourly is not automatically an exempt employee.

#2: White Collar Duties

The type of work the employee does also matters. The employee’s primary duties need to be executive or administrative, or they must be professional tasks in some way. The employee must spend at least 50 percent of their time performing exempt activities.

#3: Independent Judgment

The work the employee does must involve making independent judgments and decisions. For example, this often means they must compare and evaluate various courses of action and then make a decision after they consider various scenarios to determine which is best suited for the situation.

Does Your Job Fall Into These Categories?

It can be challenging to determine if your job falls into the exempt category. However, some common positions that do include:

  • Doctors, surgeons, and other licensed medical providers
  • Union employees
  • Employees that earn a commission
  • Computer professionals
  • Salespeople that work outside of the company’s internal structure
  • Truck drivers

If you are a nonexempt employee – a person that does not work in one of these areas – that means the employer must provide for the state’s minimum standards of employment, including factors related to salary and overtime pay.

Allow Our Team to Work With You to Determine Employment Exemptions

At Walker Law, our San Diego employment law attorneys work closely with people who are in positions that may not be clearly defined as being exempt or not exempt. We then help them to determine if their rights were violated. Our goal is to meet the needs of employees by working to ensure they are being treated fairly. Set up a free consultation with us today to learn more about your rights, and let us help give you insight into any compensation owed to you.

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