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California Minimum Wage and Exempt Employees

Lynch Law June 26, 2015

Last year, California raised the minimum wage from $8 per hour to $9 per hour. Wages are paid based upon your designated status: exempt or non-exempt. These designations have strict conditions as set by the California Department of Industrial Relations. Deciding whether or not you are exempt or non-exempt can be confusing, as the type of work performed and the location of the work can affect the category you fall into. If you think you have been wrongly categorized, seeking the advice of an employment law attorney such as myself can help clear up the issue.

In general, a non-exempt employee is paid an hourly rate and qualifies for overtime and meal breaks. An exempt employee is often paid a set salary per month; meaning that no matter how many hours they work, their pay remains the same. Overtime does not apply, nor do other wage requirements, except one: exempt employees must be paid a monthly salary equivalent equal to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment, as defined in Labor Code 515(c).

Congratulations! If you were exempt and making twice the state minimum wage, you should be earning a minimum of $37,440 per year as of July of 2014. In January of 2016, the minimum wage will go up to $10 per hour, meaning you would earn $41, 600 annually.

Are you classified as exempt and getting paid less than the minimum? Employers will sometimes classify employees incorrectly to avoid having to pay overtime and paid meal breaks. There are penalties to the employer for improper payment, including allowing the employee to recover wages. If you are concerned you have been paid incorrectly, please call our offices to go over your classification.