Exempt Vs Non Exempt

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt

An employer’s decision to designate employees “exempt” instead of “non-exempt” is one of the most common misclassification violations of California law.

These two employee designations have very different meanings and implications. Many times, employers attempt to cheat their employees by intentionally misclassifying them as exempt employees. Employers do this in order to avoid having to provide their employees with lunch breaks, rest breaks, overtime pay, among other protections that “non-exempt” employees receive. California law prohibits the misclassification of employees and provides for substantial penalties against employers for doing so.

In the United States, the rules governing “exempt” and “non-exempt” employees fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which defines the exemption status for employees, and it affects their entitlement to wages, hours worked, overtime payments, etc.
FLSA encompasses most of employees in the United States, with the exception of seaman, newspaper delivery workers, workers on small farms, and some others. The FLSA has released a detailed explanation about the exemption or non-exemption status of American employees to inform them about their rights.

California’s laws make it more difficult for employers to establish an employee’s “exempt” status.

“Non-exempt” employees are those who are entitled to payment of wages earned for overtime work if their worked hours exceeded 40 hours for any given week. The employees working overtime under the non-exempt distinction must be paid for the total time they worked plus 50% of its value in excess of 40 hours a week. Most employees in the United States are classified as non-exempt.

“Exempt” employees are those who are not protected by the wage and hour laws. They are not entitled to overtime pay, lunch or rest breaks, or other protections enjoyed by “non-exempt” employees.

“Exempt” employees are also identified through certain conditions, like being paid a fixed salary, as opposed to an hourly rate of pay, or having certain job duties that render them exempt. According to FLSA, the three major types of job duties for an exempt employee would be the executive, professional, and administrative type jobs.

An executive has duties that include supervising two or more employees, managing the operations of the business, providing assignments to employees, and other managerial asks. Simply put, an “executive” is most commonly the boss or the one that is in charge in the workplace.
A professional is one who has finished a certain profession through advanced education and training. Examples of professionals are physicians, lawyers, teachers, and others who engage in work that requires advanced knowledge.

An administrative worker includes employees who perform office or non-manual work in order to support the business. They are the accountants, human resource workers, and public relations staff.

These three categories of job types are very broad and having the job title does not necessarily mean you are an exempt worker. However, employees who perform tasks that fall under the three categories are considered to be exempt from overtime and other benefits.

There are many instances where “non-exempt” employees are misclassified as “exempt,” and as a result, the employee is denied certain benefits and compensation that are mandated by law.

Contact a Skilled Employment Lawyer

If you believe that you have been misclassified by your employer as an exempt employee, you should speak to the best employment lawyers around the California area who can help you obtain justice and the compensation you deserve. Our experienced team of California employment attorneys will help and guide you through every step of your case. We will fight for your justice and help you obtain maximum compensation.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We handle our cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you only pay us if we get compensation for you. You can reach our legal team 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-247-9235 or emailing [email protected].

Get A Free Consultation


This firm was extremely professional! The took over the entire process for us, from beginning to end… I'm not sure what I was expecting but they were fantastic. They helped us make the right decisions and got us great settlements. My mom doesn't have a yelp account but trust me, I speak for both of us when I say I highly recommend their services.


Neama and Allen are awesome lawyers and handled my case as if it was their own. If you are searching for attentive, aggressive, and compassionate lawyers, this is the law firm you need to go with! Their entire team is so professional and never had me questioning their work…Thank you to everyone who helped me get through this tough time of my life.


I want to give a huge THANK YOU to the whole West Coast Employment Lawyers team for all your attention, help, support, dedication, professionalism, and RESULTS... you guys made the entire experience from start to finish easy, simple, and confusion free. I will recommend you guys to anyone I know that needs a lawyer.