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What to Do if You Are Misclassified as Exempt in California

  • Published: May 8, 2022

Some employers may try to cheat the system for profit by misclassifying employees as “exempt” from certain employment rights and privileges, such as overtime pay. Some employers may purposefully misclassify employees in an attempt to defraud the system, and others may accidentally misclassify employees. Regardless of how the misclassification occurs, when employees don’t receive the pay or benefits they deserve under the law, they can fight for compensation with the help of a California employee misclassification lawyer.

What Is an Employee Exempt/Non-Exempt Classification?

Employee classification as exempt or non-exempt is the label that allows them to have wage, overtime, meal, and rest break protection under California law. When employees are misclassified as exempt, they are unfairly stripped of the protections to which they are legally entitled under California labor laws. When an employer wrongly classifies employees, regardless of the reason, the employee has grounds to file a wage lawsuit for unpaid overtime, missed meals and rest breaks, or other violations.

California wage laws are complex, and not all employees understand what it means to be exempt or non-exempt, which means they probably don’t understand how those classifications affect their employment rights. For instance, a common misconception is that employees paid a regular salary or holding an executive or administrative position is considered exempt in California, but that’s not the case.

When employers misclassify non-exempt employees as exempt, they have the right to pay that employee below minimum wage, below overtime pay requirements, or no overtime payments at all. Employers get away with this and even reduce the amount they pay the worker because workers don’t understand that a violation of their rights occurred. Employees who aren’t able to catch their employer misclassifying them may later realize that their employer owes them thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

Determining Whether You’ve Been Misclassified as Exempt

Some signs that your employer may have misclassified you as exempt include:

  • You’re being paid an hourly wage: Generally, exempt employees are paid a regular salary not directly tied to production or hours worked.
  • You’re being paid below minimum wage: Non-exempt employees are protected by California law and must be paid at least the minimum wage.
  • Sudden change in job duties: An employer may suddenly change your job duties or schedule to make it seem as if you are an exempt employee.

Employees who believe they’re being misclassified as exempt or being denied their rights need to contact an employment law attorney. California employment lawyers work to help protect workers’ rights and hold employers accountable for their actions, whether intentional or not, as their actions affect employees’ livelihood.

What to Do if an Employer Misclassifies You as Exempt

If an employer misclassifies you as exempt, you may have the ability to pursue your right to those unpaid wages that resulted from a labor law violation. Some of the damages an employee may be able to recover in a labor lawsuit include:

  • Unpaid overtime
  • Minimum wage violations
  • Missed rest breaks
  • Missed meal breaks
  • Interest
  • Legal fees
  • Court costs

Furthermore, under federal law, an employee who was misclassified may be able to seek double the damages.

Contact Our Experienced Employment Lawyers at KCNS Law Group

KCNS Law Group knows that despite California employment law and the protection it gives workers, sometimes employers intentionally or accidentally violate laws and hurt employees. Our employment lawyers have years of experience handling employment law violations, including employers misclassifying employees. We are ready to help protect your rights and recover the unpaid wages you are owed. Our lawyers are here to help employees fight for their rights and help hold employers accountable.

You can call us at (818) 937-9255 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.

KCNS Law Group LLP

Our client-based approach is concentrated on our commitment to providing individual and strategic representation tailored to our client’s specific needs.

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