White-collar and employees who work in a managerial or supervisorial capacity instead of an hourly wage, are generally exempt from California wage and hour laws including overtime laws. These are the laws that protect hourly and non-exempt employees, giving them the right to overtime pay, rest and meal breaks as well as minimum wage protections. California wage and hour laws prohibit employers from exempting an employee from overtime just because they decide to pay them a salary instead of paying them hourly. The employee's job responsibilities must align with the legal definition of an exempt employee as delineated by the California Labor Code.
Who is Exempt Under the Law?
Under California law, different categories of employees are exempt from overtime laws. Here are some of those categories of employees.
Executive, Administrative and Professional Employees
This exemption applies to those employees who have responsibilities of an administrative, professional or executive nature. In order to claim this exemption, employees must use at least 50% of their time to complete such tasks. They should have the authority to use their own independent judgment and discretion in doing their job and earn wages that are equal to at least twice the minimum wage for a full-time employee in California. The minimum salary for an exempt employee in California is $64,480 in 2023, according to the state's minimum wage requirements.
Employees who work mainly in computer design or hardware, systems analysis or program development are typically exempt from overtime laws if they are primarily engaged in creative or intellectual work while exercising their independent judgment. Such employees possess high proficiency and skill in their field (software engineering, programming or systems analysis). As of January 1, 2023, California employers must pay their computer professional employees with an annual salary of $112,065.20 or more ($9,338.78 a month or $53.80 an hour) to be exempt from paying them overtime.
Professionals who are owed overtime wages can file an unpaid wage claim to help recover money owed. If you believe that you are owed overtime pay from your employer our experienced wage and hour attorneys can help. Simply fill out the form on this page to request a free consultation.
Licensed Physicians and Surgeons
A licensed physician or surgeon who is primarily engaged in performing job duties that require a license, is also exempt from overtime laws in California. It is important to remember that such exemption does not apply to residents, interns or doctors who are covered under collective bargaining agreements. As of Jan. 1, 2023, licensed physicians and surgeons should be paid a minimum hourly rate of $97.99 in order to be considered exempt from overtime pay.
Private School Teachers
Teachers who are employed in a private school are also exempt from overtime pay if they earn 70% of the lowest salary the school district offers to credentialed teachers in the county or city where the private school is located, or 100% of the lowest salary any California school district offers to its credentialed teachers.
Under state employment law, any employee of the University of California or a local or state government agency is exempt from overtime law.
Outside Salespeople and Commissioned Employees
An employee in outside sales is also exempt from overtime laws if their primary job duty involves sales and if they work from their employer's place of business on a regular basis. Employees earning commissions are also exempt from overtime laws if commissions account for over half of their income and if they make more than one and a half times the minimum wage.
Misclassification of Employees
Misclassifications routinely occur in California workplaces especially when employers try to get out of paying their employees the correct overtime wages. Employers classify workers as exempt instead of non-exempt or hourly in order to avoid paying them overtime. If you believe that your employer has misclassified you as an exempt employee to avoid paying overtime, it is important that you contact an experienced Los Angeles employment attorney right away to seek rightful compensation.
If you have been deprived of overtime pay due to a misclassification, you can seek back pay for unpaid overtime wages earned. These amounts can add up very quickly, even for low-wage employees. In addition, employers may also be required to pay your attorney's fees and legal costs. Employees usually have three years in which to make a wage claim under California law. Workers can typically seek back pay for overtime wages earned during the two years prior to making a wage claim. Federal law extends that time to three years if the misclassification was willful or deliberate.
Interest on Unpaid Wages
Labor Code 98.1 (c) provides that interest to accrue on unpaid wages starting on the date the money was due. We wrote a full article where you can learn more about calculating interest on unpaid wages here.
How Kingsley & Kingsley Can Help
The knowledgeable and resourceful Los Angeles overtime lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers have a long and successful track record of helping workers who have been shortchanged by their employers on wage and hour issues including overtime pay, minimum wage and rest/meal breaks. Whether you would like to file a complaint against your employer, file a wage and hour lawsuit or a class action lawsuit, we can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Call us at (818) 990-8300 for a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.