Q: Should I be making $26/ hr as an exempt employee?
CA minimum wage went up to $13/ hr Jan 1, 2020 for companies with 26 or more employees. My branch does not have 26 employees, but there are well over 26 employees nationwide. I’m an exempt employee making $49,920 a year ($24/ hr). HR has told me I do not fall under the designated threshold. It’s my understanding I should be making $54,080 ($26/ hr) because exempt employees must be double minimum wage. Is this correct?
Yes, based on your "Facts," you are correct. However, whether you are an "Exempt" employee may be in issue. There are a few requirements for exemption from overtime, as as a "Management" Employee, beyond the double mim. wage requirement.
Re "Exempt" status, see: Labor Code, § 515, et seq.
Depending on the number and timing of hours worked, you may be/have been entitled to higher gross wages due to the loss of overtime pay you were not paid if miss-classified as an "Exempt" employee.
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Your question reveals an ambiguity in the present law that means your employer may or may not be violating the law. If you work for an employer of at least 26 employees in the State of California, including part time and leased employees from an agency, then you should be getting double the present minimum wage. If the position of your employer is that it does not have 26 employees in California, but it has more than that nationwide, the law is less clear, but you have good arguments for claiming a right to the 26+ minimum wage rage when determining if your wages should be higher.
Keep in mind that the employer plays with fire in this scenario. If it is not paying you the legally required amount, then you are not an exempt employee. You are then entitled to overtime, meal and rest periods, and all of the other rights of a non-exempt employee. Keep track of your non-exempt rights in a personal log. If you work a great deal of overtime, for instance, or are regularly denied meal or rest periods as required of an employer of non-exempt employees, it might be worth it to eventually make a legal claim.
I would strongly suggest you seek out a confidential and specific consultation with an experienced employment law attorney at that stage.
Good luck to you.
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