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Overtime laws provide additional compensation for people who work long hours on the job. However, not everyone is entitled to overtime payments, as some employees are classified as exempt. If you have questions about your exempt status, contact a California unpaid wages lawyer. 

Both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the California Labor Code both set out the rights for workers to receive a higher rate for hours worked over 40 in a week or eight in a day (under state law). This rate is 1.5 times a worker’s regular hourly rate, and overtime pay can add up quickly.

However, not everyone has the right to receive a higher rate for overtime. This is because the law categorizes people into two categories: non-exempt and exempt. Non-exempt workers have all rights under wage laws, while many provisions of these laws – including overtime requirements – do not apply to exempt employees.

Some employers might – knowingly or unknowingly – bend the rules and classify certain employees as exempt when they are, in reality, non-exempt. This deprives those employees of rightful overtime payments they deserve if they work longer hours than the standard work day or week. If you suspect you might be misclassified, contact a California Unpaid Wages Lawyer for help as soon as possible. 


First of all, if you receive an hourly wage, you should be non-exempt and receive overtime rates for extra hours. You can only be exempt if you receive a set salary, though simply paying someone a salary is not enough for them to be exempt. 

Instead, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Earn at least $54,080 per year if your employer has 25 or fewer employees
  • Earn at least $58,240 per year if your employer has 26 or more employees
  • Have a job that falls into a category set out in the California Labor Code

If you earn a salary that is above the applicable threshold, the next step is to examine the nature of your job.

Exempt Employees

The following are the categories of employees who can be exempt from overtime:

  • Executives
  • Administrative employees
  • Professionals (with the exception of registered nurses)
  • Computer professionals
  • Private school teachers
  • Doctors and surgeons
  • University of California employees
  • Government employees
  • Outside salespeople

The key is to look beyond the job title and examine your job description and duties in relation to the law. Some employers might refer to you as an “administrative employee” or “executive when your job responsibilities and daily work do not support this title. A title alone is not enough to make you exempt from overtime payments. 

Contact a California Unpaid Wages Lawyer for Assistance

At Mara Law Firm, we know that there are many employees throughout the State of California who are wrongfully labeled as exempt and denied overtime. If we determine that you were misclassified, we can fight for all of the back you deserve for unpaid overtime. Contact us online or call (619) 234-2833 to schedule a case evaluation with a California unpaid wages lawyer you can trust. Our legal team successfully helps many employees facing a wide variety of employment law matters.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney David Mara who has more than 20 years of legal experience in employment law.

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