California exempt employee?

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California exempt employee?

I was told by my new employer that I was classed as an exempt employee. This was a surprise to me as all our pay negotiations were based on an hourly rate. In addition to this I am seconded out to a client on a permanent basis. Technically I’ve never actually met my boss. I am required to be at work from 6:00 am to 4:30 pm for a 10 hour day they deduct 0.5 for an unpaid lunch break and if you are even 1 minute late they deduct 0.25 hours. They do pay overtime but only at the straight rate of pay. Is it OK for them to set it up this way? I thought being an exempt employee meant they couldn’t expect a set amount of hours from you?

Asked on May 7, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

While there are several critieria to be exempt, the first is that you must be salaried: if not salaried, you are not exempt. To be salaried means that you are paid the same amount every pay period, regardless of how many hours you work, and there is no deduction for being late to work. So if they deduct for lateness or missed time, you are not salaried--you are hourly, and therefore you are not exempt.
This in turn means:
1) They have to pay you for ALL time worked and may not legally deduct 0.25 hours for being 1 minute late (all they could deduct was the 1 minute).
2) When you work more than 40 hours in a work week, all time past 40 hours is paid at the overtime or time-and-a-half rate.
You are being underpaid and illegally paid. Contact the state department of labor to file a complaint.


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