Employers often misclassify their workers as exempt or as independent contractors.
In 2023, in California, you are not properly classified as exempt unless you are paid a salary of at least $64,480 ($5,373.33 per month). There is more to proper exempt classification than this salary requirement. The employer must be able to prove the exempt classification is correct by showing that you performed exempt work, as defined in the applicable Wage Order, at least 50% of the time and that you customarily and regularly exercised discretion and independent judgment in performing those duties. Exemptions also exist for highly skilled computer software designers, engineers, or analysts, and for outside salespersons.
If you are classified as an independent contractor, it is the Company's burden to prove that you are properly classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee. The test in California is known as the “ABC test,” and it provides that your are not a true independent contractor, unless all three of these factors are satisfied: (a) you are free from the Company's control and direction; (b) you perform work that is outside the usual course of the Company's business; and (c) you are customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business. There are many exceptions to this law, including a statutory exception for app-based drivers.
Misclassified employees are entitled to unpaid wages and overtime. If you were not provided meal and rest breaks because you were misclassified as exempt, you will also be entitled to pay for the breaks not provided at the rate of one hour of pay at your regular rate of pay for one missed meal break and one missed rest break per day.