California employment law is one of the most protective of workers in the nation. It is important to understand the nuances of state law to ensure that you have the protections that the law entitles you to.
For instance, it is important to understand if you are being misclassified as an employee. In California law, employees can be either exempt or non-exempt. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, some of the most impactful class action lawsuits have resulted from this misclassification.
What is exempt vs. nonexempt?
Essentially, the majority of employers have to follow specific rules to protect California workers. For instance, employers must track hours, provide rest breaks, and pay overtime. However, the law states that certain employees are exempt from these wage and hour laws.
However, in order for an employee to be exempt, the worker needs to meet certain requirements. There is some nuance to this, but generally speaking there are three tests for an exempt or non-exempt worker. First, an exempt worker must be making at least twice the state minimum wage for a full-time job. Secondly, that worker must be a white-collar worker who performs office tasks. Third, the employee must be using independent judgment and discretion to do their job.
If these conditions exist, then the worker is exempt under California law.
What if I am misclassified?
The most common option is for the employer and employee to resolve the issue privately. If this does not work, filing a lawsuit is the next best option. Many misclassified employees also file wage claims with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.