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Exempt Versus Non-Exempt Employees

Los Angeles Attorneys for Employee Misclassification Lawsuits

What Does 'Exempt' Mean? What Does 'Non-Exempt' Mean?

Employees can be classified as either exempt or non-exempt for the purposes of California and federal wage and hour laws. Exempt employees are exempt from the protections and rights afforded by wage and hour legislation, whereas non-exempt employees receive these protections.

The primary protections that non-exempt employees receive are the right to receive overtime pay if they work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week and the right to receive regularly scheduled meal and rest periods.

Non-Exempt Means You Spend More Than 50 Percent of Your Time on Production Work

In California, you are considered a non-exempt employee if you perform the production work of the company more than 50 percent of your time, regardless of the title your company gives you. Exempt employees are commonly paid an annual salary, whereas non-exempt employees are commonly paid an hourly rate.

  • If you are in the kitchen flipping burgers and filling drinks more than 50 percent of the time, you are considered non-exempt even if your job title is "manager." As a non-exempt employee, you should be getting overtime pay and regular meal and rest breaks.
  • If you are a claims adjuster for an insurance company and you handle claims and do other production work more than 50 percent of the time, you are considered non-exempt.

Misclassification As an Exempt Employee

If you have been classified as an exempt employee but you spend more than 50 percent of your time performing production work, you — and others who perform your job description — may be entitled to compensation for unpaid overtime and other benefits you lost because you were misclassified.

Posner & Rosen LLP is a Los Angeles employee rights law firm that represents employees in litigation to protect their employment rights. We handle both individual wage and hour disputes and class action wage and hour litigation. Lawsuits based on misclassification of employees often go forward as class action lawsuits, where the entire group of affected employees brings one lawsuit to demand redress. We have successfully handled this type of litigation, including one case against a statewide restaurant chain that we settled for $5.5 million.

Posner & Rosen — Protecting Employee Rights Since 1985

We are proud to have built a strong reputation as ethical and strategic attorneys who strive to right wrongs committed by California employers. Many of our clients come to us as referrals from other Los Angeles lawyers or from past clients.

If you have questions about your classification as an exempt employee, call 213.389.6050 or contact us by e-mail to schedule a private consultation with one of our experienced employment law attorneys.

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