Salary Employee Laws Explained

In all workplaces, employees are either classified as exempt or non-exempt as it pertains to whether various wage and hour regulations apply to them. In general, exempt employees are those who primarily have management and decision-making responsibilities. Some common examples are executive, administrative, or professional employees as well as certain types of inside or outside salespeople. The misclassification of employees’ exempt status has been a fruitful source of overtime back pay awards won from litigation.

Job titles can often be misleading when categorizing different employee’s exempt statuses. For example, even though some employees may have an impressive job title (e.g. manager) a closer look at their responsibilities might reveal that they should be classified as non-exempt. State and federal law have created rules to define what exactly constitutes an exempt employee. These rules all have two requirements: a minimum salary requirement and a general description of job duties which the employee must exercise in order to be classified as exempt.

As for the salary requirement, all exempt employees must earn at least two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment. In California, this would compute to $2,773.33 per month. The duties requirement will vary depending on the type of employee. Generally, exempt employees customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment in their jobs. These judgments must be free from immediate supervision and must be of real and substantial significance to the policies or general operations of the business or its customers. It can also involve making recommendations for action to a superior authority. “Customarily and regularly” means frequently in the course of their day-to-day activities.

California Labor Law Regarding Meal and Rest Breaks

Here is a quick clarification of current California Meal and Rest Breaks:

According to the California Wage Orders and the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees who are classified as Nonexempt from overtime, meal and rest break requirements must be offered 10-minute paid rest breaks for every four hours they work. California labor law also says that if their shift lasts longer than 6 hours, they must also have the opportunity to take a 30-minute unpaid meal break. Under California labor law, the employer owes the employee one hour of pay if any of these breaks are not taken or the employee is unable to take a meal break. This hour of pay must be included in the following pay check.

When the employer does not comply with California labor law by restricting the opportunity for proper meal- and rest-periods, violations are calculated at one hour of additional straight time pay for each employee for each work day. California employers risk facing heavy penalties for violating California labor laws regarding meal- and rest-periods. Due to recent court decisions, the potential for large monetary fines has increased. If your employer

The Truth About California Wage and Hour Class Action Lawsuit

In California, many employers violate state employment laws. However, it is difficult for employees to find employment attorneys to represent them in these cases for many different reasons. The first reason why employees have a difficult time finding an attorney when a big company commits labor law violations is that the worker does not have the money to pay an attorney. The second reason why it is hard to find a California discrimination or wrongful termination attorney is because in some discrimination claims attorneys fees can go both ways and therefore it is not economically viable for attorneys to take the claims on a contingency basis. The final reason is that the damages in wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits are difficult to prove. Often times, the employee is already working at a new job and therefore future lost wages are unavailable for the employee. As a result of these reasons, many employers get away with labor code violations, or do they?

California has very strict wage and hour laws. Often times, employees in the state seek an attorney because they think that their workplace rights have been violated. Perhaps a discrimination or wrongful termination violation. Many times, the employee is right: the employer fired the employee for some discriminatory reason such as pregnancy discrimination or race discrimination. Although the employee has a difficult time finding an attorney for the reasons described above, the employee may not know that his or her wage and hour violations were violated.

Under California overtime laws, employers must pay employees overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of eight hours in a single workday and under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code employers must pay employees overtime compensation at one and a half times the employees regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of forty 40 hours in a single workweek. Often times, employers pay employees a salary and tell the employees that because they are paid a salary, they are not entitled to be paid overtime. The employees often take the employers word for it and work a lot of overtime hours without additional compensation.

Although employees may have difficulty finding an attorney to take their case for discrimination or harassment in the workplace, the employee will likely not have time finding an attorney to take their case on a contingency fee basis under a wage and hour legal theory. If plead correctly, the wage and hour claims do not give rise to two way attorneys fees and the benefits of litigating overtime claims in California are many. Meanwhile, in the wage and hour class action lawsuit, the employees still get to litigate their discrimination and harassment claims because the employer usually takes the employee's deposition and the employee gets a chance to explain how the employer's conduct was discriminatory. Although on the complaint discrimination is not named as the cause of action, at the end of the day wage and hour overtime class action attorneys enable employees to find attorneys that will help them fight back against big companies. The lawyers front all the litigation costs and the employees never pay the overtime attorneys unless the overtime lawyers win them money.


California employees are entitled, under the relevant wage and hour laws, to compensation for all hours worked. The law requires employers to pay employees overtime compensation at one and a half times the employees regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours in a single work day. Employees are also supposed to be paid overtime when they work more than forty hours in the same workweek. The failure to pay employees overtime pay in either of these scenarios is a violation of state and federal overtime laws.

Some companies hire call center employees that work at home as independent contractors, when in fact these virtual call center employees should be making compensation for all of the time they work. For instance, an employer may higher an employee and agree to pay that employee a certain rate for all of the time the employee is actually on the phone with the customers. As a result, the call center company is likely violating state wage and hour laws by failing to pay the virtual call center employees for all hours worked.

Despite the fact that many companies consider call center employees to be independent contractors, under California employment laws, it does not matter what the employer calls you or that the agreement actually calls you an independent contractor. Contact an employment law attorney at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik today if you are working for a company from your home as a call center employee and you are not paid for all of the hours you work. You may be eligible to join or start a class action lawsuit to recover significant damages if you have a valid claim.


Under California wage and hour laws, employers are required to pay all non-exempt hourly employees for attending mandatory company meetings. This means that when workers in California are required to go to a meeting, regardless of whether or not the meeting is held in person at the company or another location, or even a webinar held over the Internet, the employee is entitled to compensation at the regular rate of pay if the meeting time falls within the first 8 hours of the workday and 40 hours within the workweek. However, if mandatory meeting time pushes employees past the 8 hour workday or 40 hour workweek, California employees are entitled to overtime pay for the time spent attending mandatory meetings.

California employees are also entitled to compensation for attending mandatory training. If your former or current employer makes you perform job training off-the-clock and without compensation, contact a California employee compensation lawyer today to learn about how to get reimbursed for training time.

In particular, training typically occurs in the computer industry. Often times, computer hardware engineers, code writers, ans other computer professionals and technicians work off the clock training for the job without compensation. This can add up to a lot of unpaid compensation if these computer employees are working off the clock training for the job several hours a week. However, it is not uncommon for these computer industry workers to perform job duties off the clock and without pay because computer positions require a high degree of skill and in order to complete the job to a satisfactory level, the computer professionals must undergo such training. Computer professionals that are training for a professional position with a computer company are non-exempt from overtime laws, meaning that these employees must be paid overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of 8 in a workday, 40 in a workweek and in excess of 6 consecutive workdays in the same workweek.

The Five Most Common Wage and Hour Labor Law Violations

It is not uncommon for employers violate state wage and hour laws. After all, most big businesses in the state of California have committed illegal pay practices. These are probably the 5 most typical and reoccuring violations of overtime laws by employers.

1. Paying employees in California a fixed salary without overtime pay is a violation of California law. This is probably the biggest misconception. Even though many employers trick employees into thinking that they are not entitled to overtime compensation and meal and rest breaks, employees must be aware of the fact that a salary by itself does not preclude workers from making overtime pay.

2. Another major problem involves tricking highly skilled professionals into thinking that they are going to have a job under which they can exercise independent discretion and judgment but in reality the company has simply violated state overtime pay laws by misclassifying the employee as exempt.

3. The third most common wage and hour violation in California involves illegal timekeeping systems. Many companies in the state have been caught changing the hours employees work in violation of CA Law.

4. Failing to reimburse employees for work-related expenses incurred while working for the employer, whether it be gas mileage or something, has become a very prevalent and reoccuring labor law violation committed by employers.

5. Unpaid vacation time and waiting time penalties. When an employee is terminated and not paid all of the vacation time the employee earned under over the years of his or her employment, the business is violating the Labor Code. For these common vacation pay violations, employees can get waiting time penalties since vacation time is considered earn "wages" for purposes of California law.

California Overtime Laws: Reporters and Journalists are supposed to be paid Overtime, says the Ninth Circuit

On September 27, 2010, the Ninth Circuit in Wang v. Chinese Daily News, 623 F.3d 743 (9th Cir. Cal. 2010) disagreed with the newspaper company, upholding violations of wage and hour laws committed against newspaper reporters and journalists. The California district court originally found that the newspaper company violated state labor laws by failing to give newspaper reporters labor law breaks and the newspaper company failed to pay the reporters proper overtime pay as required by state and federal wage and hour laws.

The newspaper company argued that it was not required to pay newspaper reporters overtime compensation for working more than 40 hour weeks under the Fair Labor Standards Act because the newspaper reporters meet the test of the creative professional exception to federal and state overtime laws. Federal wage and hour laws exempt certain companies from paying overtime compensation to professional white collar workers. To qualify as an exempt professional under federal overtime law, a newspaper reporter must be paid at least $455 every week and the reporters "primary duty" must be the performance of work involving invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.

Reporters journalists are entitled to overtime compensation when they perform job duties involving routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical work. California wage and hour law, with respect to overtime rules for professional employees and reporters, is similar to overtime laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act in that a professional employees is one who is primarily engaged in the performance of work that is original and creative in character in a recognized field of artistic endeavor and the result of which depends primarily on the invention, imagination, or talent of the employee.

The Obama Administration has chimed in on this issue about overtime pay for professional employees and reporters. The Department of Labor takes the position that journalists and reporters are required to be paid overtime compensation when they perform job duties that are limited to collections, organizing and putting data into a computer or other system. In order for newspaper reporters and journalist to be denied the benefits of state overtime laws and federal overtime laws, the employees must perform job duties that involve creation, imagination or ability. Reporters and journalists are entitled to overtime compensation under wage and hour laws when their work is routine and clerical in nature, rather than creative.