California employment lawyer

Ethics and equity and principles of justice do not change with the calendar.

Overtime: administrative exemption

Are you working 50, 60, or maybe even 70 or 80 hours each week? Has your employer told you that your job is very important, so you are expected to work long hours without any compensation for overtime? This happens more than you think. I’ve handled hundreds of cases over the years where my clients’ employers told them just that. However, what your boss won’t tell you is that most employees in the state of California are supposed to be receiving overtime pay.

You deserve to be paid for your hard work, even if you are paid on a salary basis, and even if you earn a salary that is over $100,000 per year.

There is a very limited number of people who are not entitled to overtime. You likely have rights to wages that you didn’t even know you had!

Does your boss say that because you’re administrator, you don’t have rights to overtime? That’s probably illegal!

Someone who is an administrator is not entitled to overtime pay under California law. According to Pellegrino v. Robert Half International, Inc., administrators make decisions of significance for their employer. But you make decisions that affect the company all day, right? Does that mean you aren’t entitled to overtime pay? No. Everyone makes some decisions that affect the company in some way. Yet most people qualify for overtime pay.

  Only certain decisions that you make that could affect your status as an administrator.  

For instance, a helpline technician must make a decision about how to troubleshoot a problem. If an employer could refuse to pay overtime whenever an employee made a decision, no employee would ever have a right to overtime pay. It is only certain decisions that you make that could affect your status as an administrator.

Administrators spend the majority of their time doing office work directly related to management policies or general business operations (either for the employer or the employer’s customers). Administrators exercise discretion and independent judgment. In other words, they are making policies on behalf of the company. They are making decisions about the direction the company is taking. They have the ability to enter into contracts on behalf of the company. They have a budget with full discretion on how they are to use it.

  If you make decisions and exercise independent judgement in your job, you may still have overtime rights!  

If you make decisions and exercise independent judgement in your job, you may still have overtime rights! You are exercising discretion if you choose what tasks you are working on and the order in which you are to complete your task. You are exercising independent judgment if your boss doesn’t care which task you choose as long as you get it done. However, it isn’t enough to deny an employee overtime pay because they exercise some discretion and independent judgement. Their discretion and judgment must be over matters of significance with the company.

Obviously, whether you do a task today or tomorrow makes little or no difference. It has nothing to do with the “management policies or general business operations” of the company. Therefore, even if you make decisions, you still have rights to overtime pay! Your boss is wrong to deny you your overtime.

Employers frequently misclassify people as administrators. Some examples include executive assistants, administrative assistants, help desk technicians, secretaries, bookkeepers, help desk operators, and many, many more.

If you feel as if you were misclassified as an administrator, please call us. We can help!

What should you do if you think you have rights to overtime pay?

If you think you are entitled to overtime you need to begin keeping a log of the hours that you work. Got a late night phone call from the boss or a client? Keep a journal of when the conversation started and ended, with whom you spoke, and the nature of the call.

  Employers frequently misclassify people as administrators.  

If you haven’t been keeping a record, the law says that you can provide a reasonable estimate of your hours worked. But, how do you prove that your estimate is reasonable? Go back through your past emails and look at the time and date stamp on the emails. Look at your expense report sheets and see where you traveled to and what you were doing. If you have access to your computer log in times, check to see when your computer was in use. Finally, look at your phone records. All of those late night phone calls should be recorded.

Your memory is probably better than your employer’s recollection, since you actually worked the hours! Reach out to us if you’d like help in figuring out how to estimate the time you worked.

So, am I an exempt employee or not? Do I fit into the administrative exemption?

If you ask your boss, it’s very likely that you’ll be told you’re exempt. But my many years of experience have shown me that most people are non-exempt. Exemptions are a hard thing to understand, which is why many workplaces get them wrong. Let us help you find out if you’re owed money!

We can help you fight for justice.

When your employer wrongfully withholds pay that your earned, you can feel hopeless. Employers should not get away with it! By standing up for your rights, you are standing up for yourself. You are also standing up for everyone who has ever suffered the injustice of an employer keeping wages that are earned.

Please make an appointment for a free consultation in our Newport Beach office. You can contact us by email or phone. We want to help.