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Exempt Status in California

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  • Exempt Status in California

    I have a new boss and she is hastling me for working through my lunch hour/break so that I can leave 1 hour early to attend my graduate studies classes. Under prior management furthering my education was encouraged and allowed though my exempt status management position. My job description is documented that I am an exempt employee, and I also meet all the criteria/guidelines for being an "executive exempt" or even a "professional" type of exempt employee for what I thought was CA Labor Codes and the FLSA.

    Could someone please explain "exempt" status to me? My understanding for California was that as long as you "meet" the documented criteria for CA labor codes and you hold a title of exempt and our maintaining your 40 hour minimum, that I have a right to exercise a more non-conventional schedule - especially since I always exceed the 40 hours - I usually put in 45-50 per week even with leaving early; as I also teach health education classes for our patients on the evenings when I do not leave early for school.

    Please clarify.
    Last edited by egasink; 08-24-2006, 10:11 PM. Reason: spelling

  • #2
    "Exempt" means that you are exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the equivalent state requirements; you must be paid a guaranteed salary of at least $540/wk (this is the California requirement, not federal) and your salary can be docked only in limited situations.

    It is a common misperception that you can set your own schedule as an exempt employee; that is the employer's legal perogative and it appears that the employer has allowed your boss to make the relevant decision regarding your schedule. You have no right under the law to work whatever hours you choose without your employer's permission.

    I understand that you are used to it, and it's a tough break, but there is no LEGAL requirement that you be able to "leave early". However, have you talked to your boss and explained the situation? Seems to me you should be able to negotiate something for the days that you have to leave a little early to attend class. Make up the time? The law allows the employer to require that if they wish.
    Last edited by Pattymd; 08-25-2006, 04:26 AM.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Problem lies with no documentation of lunch

      Thank you for the reply. I understand what you are saying. Perhaps I should elaborate a little.......

      I have spoken to my boss - the problem is that I do make up the time (and then some); she is concerned because my timesheet reveals no lunches and she feels that is a violation and also because I am a workaholic; that I exceed 80 hours on a two-week timesheet. That's why I am inquiring on the exemptions available and if I am putting my employer at risk. They are fine with me leaving early - but not if I document without a lunch. I have told I do not expect overtime pay - I just simply wish to document the hours I spend at my job. She has ordered me to take a lunch to get my hours to equal 80.

      Does that change things ??

      Comment


      • #4
        Quite frankly, no. Being exempt still does not permit you to blow off what your employer regulates regarding hours worked. If they want you to take an hour lunch, you take an hour lunch. If they want you to keep your hours to 80 in a pay period, then you keep your hours to 80 in a pay period.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          Maybe. The law in California DOES require a meal period and it cannot be waived (unless under very restricted circumstances) and a penalty can be charged the employer, payable to the employee, if it is not provided. Whether this applies to exempt employees or not, or whether the DLSE would take such a claim I'm not clear on, although the law does not specfiically exempt "exempt" employees.

          We have a couple of California employment law attorneys who contribute here and I'd like to hear their opinion.
          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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          • #6
            Whether the law requires it or not, the employer is still free to do so.
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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            • #7
              True. I was just curious as to whether the law applies to exempt employees as well. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but then who said laws have to be logical.
              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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              • #8
                What are implications for documenting incorrectly

                I guess I am understanding. So what are the laws for purging - documenting a lunch I did not take to make my boss happy. Does that pose any legal implications for me??

                My boss documents she comes in at 8:00am - but of course she does not - takes an hour lunch (which is usually longer) and then leaves at 5:00pm - her timesheet is impeccable, but that is not truly what she worked...And that is what she wants me to do. Just seems unethical...you thoughts ??

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                • #9
                  According to the IWC Wage Order, exempt employees are exempt from legally mandated lunch periods. That doesn't necessarily change cbg's point, but it does deflate the necessity for the OP's timesheet to reflect a lunch hour.

                  Submitting an incorrect timesheet is unethical, and defeats the purpose of having a timesheet. However, since you are not being paid based on the timesheet, it really doesn't do much harm. While you could argue that submitting an accurate timesheet is actually a better policy than what your boss is requiring, I'm not sure that it is worth possibly upsetting your boss just to make a point that has no real bearing on anything.

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                  • #10
                    Now I am confused

                    I understand what you are saying about picking my battles, but now I am confused. I also am very big on business practices and ethics. I think my boss would lighten up if she understood the laws. Unfortunately we are a small non-profit so we do not have an HR manger.

                    What is the IWC Wage Order?? I think that may be the document I showed my boss to try to explain that sections 4-12 would not apply as long as I met the definition of an "exempt" employee - which I do under the executive (supervise more at least two; make more the $540 per week etc.)

                    So do I have to take a lunch?

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                    • #11
                      If the employer, through your supervisor, says you have to take one, then you have to take one.
                      I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                      • #12
                        You seem to be under the impression that if the law does not require you to take a break, your employer cannot require it either. Sorry, but that's not the case.

                        If your employer says you have to take a lunch, you have to take a lunch. Period, end of story. Doesn 't matter if the law requires it; doesn't matter if you're exempt or non-exempt. It's the employer's call.
                        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Our Employee Handbook

                          I get what pattymd is saying; so whom is my employer?

                          This is what it states in our employee handbook:
                          #4. Employment Categories - In accordance with federal and state law, each employee is designated as either nonexempt or exempt from federal and state wage and hour laws. Exempt employees are excluded from specific provisions of federal and state wage and hour laws. Nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay under the specific provisions of federal and state laws whenever they more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours in any week However the center does not authorize the working of overtime hours by hourly employees and only the Executive Director can authorize the working of overtime hours by hourly employees and only the ED can authorize the working of overtime by hourly employees.
                          - There is no mention or clause about lunch ??

                          Our board of directors approves the P&P's - so do I take this up with them?

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                          • #14
                            You aren't hearing us. It doesn't have to be written. It doesn't have to be in the handbook. It doesn't have to be required by law. It doesn't make any difference whether you're exempt or not if you're being required by the employer to do it. Are you questioning the authority of your supervisor to make this decision? Be careful.
                            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                            • #15
                              Okay

                              Okay - thanks for the info/thoughts; I will disengage from the conversation and quit wasting everyones time.......

                              but I am still left to question - then why have those things (ie. P&P, laws, ect) in the first place; if it boils down to a supervisor having total control and practices unethical behaviors.

                              I do appreciate your time

                              Comment

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