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Employer changed my exempt status

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  • Employer changed my exempt status

    I manage event sales for a retail beverage company, and I was recently changed from a salaried/exempt employee to an hourly/non-exempt employee. My official title is "Events Group Director", and my duties include development of sales strategies and goals, negotiating deals with distributors, and supervising event sales specialists. My work is primarily managerial, creative, and clerical in nature, and requires me to be available to clients and coworkers 24/7 via phone and email. By my limited understanding of CA labor law, I should still be salaried/exempt. Can anyone help me understand the current definition and requirements of exempt status in California? Also, can one be paid a predetermined salary without being exempt? THANKS!!

  • #2
    Here's the thing.

    It doesn't matter a dang bit of difference what the legal definition of exempt is, because even if you meet it, you can legally be made non-exempt.

    Every single employee in the country can legally be made non-exempt. Microsoft could make Bill Gates non-exempt if they wanted to. Non-exempt is the default. An employee who meets one of the legal definitions of exempt CAN be classified so, but nothing in Federal law or the law of any state says that the employer MUST classify someone as exempt.

    The reverse is not true. An employee who does not meet the definition of exempt cannot be classified so. But there are no circumstances under the law where an employer MUST classify an employee as exempt.

    Now, if they're going to make you non-exempt, that's legal - but it means that they MUST follow ALL the rules of being non-exempt, including paying overtime. And CA has the most favorable overtime laws in the US - favorable to the employee, that is. Yes, a non-exempt employee can be paid on salary, but if they're going to classify you as salaried non-exempt, then they still have to pay overtime when earned.
    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.


    • #3
      Agreed with everything said in the last answer. Past that, if the employer wants to claim that someone is Exempt, then the legally burden of proof for making tham Exempt falls on the employer. There is no legal burden of proof for non-exempt employees as stated, since any employee without exception can be non-exempt. The original legal defintion of Exempt is someone who per the federal FLSA law is exempt from the minimum wage requirement, the overtime requirement or both. Under federal law there are something like 100 or so Exempt classiflicaionts, with often very different rules. If the employer fails to follow the MW/OT rules, basically claiming Exempt status, they must be able to say (to the government) exactly which Exempt classification is being used. If the answer is "none", then the employee is non-exempt and fully subject to normal MW/OT rules.

      CA is part of the USA and fully subject to the federal FLSA law. CA however has it's own CLC law, which is in addition to, not instead of FLSA. CA has fewer exempt classifications then the feds and often has stricter classification rules. But as CBG says, it is ALWAYS the employer's choice to treat someone as Exempt.

      There is a common misunderstanding that Salaried = Exempt. Not true. Not all salaried employees are Exempt and not all Exempt employees are salaried. It is true that of the 100 or so federal Exempt classifications tha exactly 4 of those classifications (Admin, Exec, Prof, IT Prof) mostly have a Salaried Basis requirement, but taking an employee who is otherwise non-exempt and paying them a salary does not magically make them Exempt.
      Last edited by DAW; 07-07-2012, 03:03 PM.
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


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