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Employers can classify certain employees as exempt from minimum wage laws if they meet certain requirements. Speak with a California minimum wage lawyer about your rights and any concerns you may have about unpaid wages. 

Both federal law and the California Labor Code provide the right to minimum wage for employees. However, did you know that these laws don’t necessarily apply to everyone? Some employees are considered exempt from wage and hour laws, among other things, and employers often prefer to classify employees as exempt whenever possible.

If your employer informs you that you are exempt, but you believe you are not, you might have a wage claim if your pay was not in line with minimum wage requirements. Our California minimum wage lawyers can assess your situation and advise you of a possible wage claim.

Requirements for Exemption

Employers cannot simply choose when someone is exempt or not. Instead, California law makes it clear which requirements must be met in order to classify someone as exempt. 

Salary Requirements

Generally speaking, exempt employees must receive a set salary (unless they are in certain professions, such as computer professionals or outside salespeople). A salary means that someone is guaranteed to receive the same amount of pay regardless of how many hours they work in a pay period.

In addition, a salary must meet a minimum threshold to qualify as exempt. This threshold is twice the amount that someone would earn for a 40-hour week at the minimum wage rate. In 2021, this minimum salary is:

  • For employers with 25 or fewer employees = $54,080 per year or $4,506.67 per  month 
  • For employers with 26 or more employees = $58,240 per year or $4,853.34 per month

If you earn less than the above, your employer must comply with all minimum wage and overtime requirements. This amount is set to increase again on January 1, 2022. 

White-Collar Job Duties

Just because you have a certain salary does not mean that you are automatically exempt, as you also must have certain job duties. Some job titles or duties that might qualify as exempt include:

  1. Executives
  2. Administrative duties
  3. Professional duties
  4. Commissioned employees
  5. Outside salespeople
  6. Surgeons and physicians
  7. Computer professionals
  8. Private school teachers
  9. Certain commercial drivers
  10. Certain union employees

Other professions might have special wage laws that apply, though they might not be fully exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws. 

Independent Judgment

The final requirement is that someone who is exempt must have independent judgment and discretion when performing their jobs. You cannot simply label someone as an “administrative” or “professional” employee and meet the requirements for exemption. Instead, the employee’s duties must be in line with their job title, and they must be able to work on an independent basis.

Contact Our Experienced California Minimum Wage Lawyers

If your employer claims you are exempt, yet your position does not meet the requirements, you might have important legal rights. It is important to have a California minimum wage lawyer from Mara Law Firm evaluate your legal options and take action if needed to protect your wage rights under the law. Call (619) 234-2833 or contact us online for a free consultation today.

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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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