Employee misclassification has rightly been termed “wage theft” because it results in a loss of significant wages to employees. Over several years, such wage theft can deprive a single worker of tens of thousands of dollars.
As a California non-exempt employee, you are protected by state minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements. For example, as of January 1, 2018, California law requires non-exempt employees that work for an employer with 25 or fewer employees to be paid a minimum of $10.50 per hour. Employees that work for an employer with more than 25 employees are entitled to be paid $11.00 per hour. California’s overtime law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees one-and-a-half times their regular hourly rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 8 in a single workday and 40 in a single workweek and twice their regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 12 in a single workday.
In addition, most employees in California are entitled to an off-duty, 30-minute meal break if they work more than 5 hours a day and a second meal break if they work more than 10 hours a day. Non-exempt employees in California are also entitled to take a paid 10-minute rest period during the middle of each 4-hour work period.
Only certain categories of employees are exempt from California wage and hour laws. The most encompassing exceptions are the so-called “white collar” exemptions for professional, administrative and executive employees. Such employees are exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime provisions of California law. (Labor Code § 515(a); 8 Cal.Code Regs. § 11010 et seq.)
But even if your employer labels your position as “executive” or “administrator” (or pays you a salary) does not mean you are an exempt employee. To be exempt under the “white collar” exemptions, an employee must be primarily engaged (i.e. more than 50% of the time) in duties that meet the test of the particular exemption and customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment in performing those duties and earn a monthly salary equivalent of no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.