Administrative Staff Overtime Pay Lawyer

San Diego Labor Class Actions

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), not every employee is entitled to overtime pay. If you believe you are not being properly compensated for overtime hours, contact an administrative staff overtime pay attorney to find out.

Many employees may be unaware whether they are exempt or nonexempt from being able to claim overtime pay. Administrative jobs, for example, are largely not able to claim overtime compensation. This includes jobs like executive assistants, secretaries, and administrative assistants, all of whom may be working at least 40 hours per week.

Exempt vs. Nonexempt

If a worker is not entitled to overtime pay, they are referred to as “exempt.” You might think this falls under wage & hour disputes, but it is actually its own entity with its own set of independent criteria. The administrative exemption does not automatically apply to any worker who is performing some administrative work, like filing, copying, or answering phones. 

Under California law, it is a worker’s duties, not their titles, that determines their exemption or non-exemption for overtime pay. Some employers may award untrue job titles to their employees for the sole purpose of avoiding overtime pay, but again, it is the job duties that determine that in the end. Just because your job title may include buzzwords like “executive,” “professional,” or “administrative,” that does not automatically qualify for the job for administrative exemption.

Nonexempt employees include every other employee who does not meet the criteria for exemption from overtime pay. These workers are also protected by California labor laws, and they are entitled to a minimum wage, required periods of rest, meal breaks, and overtime pay.

For an employee to meet the federal administrative exemption and not qualify for overtime pay, they have to meet a number of certain criteria:

  • They must be paid a salary at a rate of no less than $684 per week, or two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
  • Their primary duties must revolve around administrative or office duties that are directly related to the management of their employer’s business operations or customers.
  • Their duties must include exercising pure discretion when it comes to sensitive information and independent judgment on matters of significance to the business.

All three of these criteria must be met in order to deny an administrative employee the opportunity to claim overtime pay. While these three criteria are fairly broad in their possible interpretations, they still must be met. 

Here is a quick rundown of how one could interpret the primary duties described in the criteria:

Administrative Duties

One of the essential criteria is that the employee’s primary duties in the office are administrative duties directly connected to the business’s daily operations. If an employee’s duties take them out of the administrative area for whatever reason, they no longer fit the criteria. That includes working a production line, selling products for customers, or other kinds of customer service. It must be purely administrative, such as:

  • Insurance claim work,
  • Purchasing orders,
  • Research and development,
  • Tax work (filing taxes, accounting, budgeting, and/or auditing),
  • Legal compliance,
  • Human resources,
  • Managing personnel,
  • Managing employee benefits programs,
  • Developing advertisements,
  • Marketing products,
  • Computer network administration,
  • Advising clients and/or customers,
  • Quality control testing for health and safety.

All of these job descriptors fit the criteria for the administrative exemption, meaning that any employee whose primary duties fit into any of the above does not automatically qualify for overtime pay as per their employers’ discretion.

Best Administrative Staff Overtime Pay Attorney

Exercising Discretion and Independent Judgment

Being an independent worker involves knowing when to utilize your own independent judgment when it comes to making informed decisions on behalf of your company or employer’s interests. It is not always easy to know when those moments are. You have to do what you need to exercise your judgment at all times. 

However, exercising your judgment on how to proceed with a situation means that your employer could claim an administrative exemption. If you regularly follow through with any of these criteria, your employer may be able to deny overtime pay based on the exemption:

  • Performing significant work that affects the operations of business daily.
  • Executing major assignments involving business operations.
  • Heavily involving yourself in matters of finance regarding the business.
  • Formulating and interpreting operating procedures or management policies.
  • Deviating from established workplace procedures without prior approval.

Misclassified Employees

If you believe you have been misclassified as an exempt administrative worker when you are, in fact, nonexempt, the wisest thing you can do is reach out to an administrative staff overtime pay attorney who can help you understand whether you are considered exempt or nonexempt. If you have been misclassified, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer.

A nonexempt employee who has been wrongfully classified as exempt has the right to sue their employer for unpaid overtime, as well as for interest, previously earned meal and rest breaks, and litigation costs.

There are a number of reasons why an employer might intentionally misclassify their employees. Despite the misclassification of employees being a clear violation of California labor laws, some employers continue to do it for purely financial reasons. By misclassifying their nonexempt employees as exempt employees, the employer has a cheaper workforce as they do not have to pay for the following:

  • The employer can have the employee work more than 40 hours a week without having to pay them overtime.
  • The employer does not have to provide the employee with a required lunch break.
  • The employer does not have to provide the employee with their required daily rest breaks.
  • The employer does not have to track employee hours.

An experienced attorney understands what steps to take to ensure you are not taken advantage of by your employer. They can:

  • Investigate your situation thoroughly and discover the facts for themselves.
  • Identify any other possible employees who have been dealing with similar situations or violations.
  • Double-check that you have followed the proper steps to file a claim.
  • Assist in gathering evidence to support your claim.
  • Negotiate on your behalf with your employer to reach a settlement.
  • Take the claim to court if it comes to that and represent your interests.
  • Protect you from possible retaliation by your employer.

How Can You Tell if You Have Been Misclassified?

There are a few telltale signs that you have been improperly classified as exempt by your employer in an attempt to deprive you of your workplace rights without your knowledge. You can do some independent investigating and learn all of these possibilities on your own:

  • Pay Rate: Generally, exempt employees are not paid an hourly wage. Their pay is salary-based and not dependent on their hours worked or production speed. If your employer is docking your pay on a regular basis for missed hours, you may have been misclassified as exempt.
  • Consistent Duties: If you have a job that is similar to other workers’ jobs in the same workplace or same industry, your duties should be relatively consistent. If their duties are not consistent with yours, it is possible that one of you has been misclassified, possibly both of you.
  • Minimum Salary: In order to qualify as an exempt employee, your salary has to be at least twice the minimum wage based on a 40-hour workweek. If your salary is less than that, regardless of how many hours you are consistently working, you do not qualify as an exempt worker.
  • Manual Labor: Employees whose jobs regularly consist of manual labor or other physical skill-related duties cannot be found exempt. This includes electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, engineers, construction workers, and many different types of craftsmen.
  • Misreporting: Your employer may have asked or ordered you to misreport your duties or job description on official forms for whatever reason. There are many possibilities as to why they are asking this of you, one of which may be that they are misclassifying you and trying to get you to go along with it without informing you of what is really going on.
  • Change In Duties: To meet the administrative exemption, you must be performing largely administrative tasks and exercising independent judgment in the workplace. If these duties change, your exemption may no longer be valid. If your status has changed from exempt to nonexempt without your knowledge, you are still entitled to workplace benefits you may not have qualified for in the past, including overtime pay.

Reach Out to an Administrative Overtime Attorney Today

Dealing with workplace legalities can be stressful and daunting. You may feel like you are turning your employer into an enemy by even suggesting that you may have been taken advantage of, even if it was a complete accident. Speaking to an attorney about your exempt or nonexempt employee status can only help you see your situation clearly.

At Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers, we can help you navigate these uncharted waters and find out what your employment status is and whether you are owed overtime pay for a misclassification. Contact us to schedule a consultation as soon as you can. We are here to help.