Most California companies must follow the Fair Labor Standards Act when designating employees as exempt or nonexempt. Labeling a worker as a manager is not sufficient to meet the laws that govern whether a person receives overtime pay. Rules guiding these designations vary by industry, but the duties of the employee actually determine job classification instead of an employer’s arbitrary decision or belief.

Some agricultural and interstate trucking jobs qualify for exempt classifications, but the bulk of exempt positions fall within the executive, administrative and professional category. White-collar positions must meet salary and duty requirements to be considered exempt. Salaries must equal a minimum of $455 a week or $23,660 per year. Duties must involve either direct management of employees or decision making crucial for business operations.

The FLSA defines supervision as overseeing two or more full-time employees or an equivalent staff of part-time employees. A properly labeled exempt employee will have the authority to hire and fire. People who do not act as supervisors might be exempt if they use their independent judgment to make important decisions about a business. Examples of potentially exempt positions include an advertising director or financial controller.

A person mislabeled as exempt by an employer might have been wrongly denied overtime pay. An attorney familiar with litigating wage and benefit claims could evaluate the case to determine if the employer owes the person wages. To build a case, an attorney could organize payroll records and information about the person’s duties to show violations of wage and hour laws. Actions taken by an attorney could include filing a formal complaint with regulators and initiating a lawsuit. The assistance of an attorney could result in a person recovering unpaid overtime.