If a quality administrative support staff is the backbone of every thriving business, why do so many employers classify administrative staff (e.g., secretaries, paralegals, clerks, receptionists) as exempt/salaried workers and deny them overtime pay? The reason is simple: Profits.
Until recent years, administrative support positions in law, marketing, real estate, mortgage, finance and a host of other industries were traditionally paid a flat salary, every payday, without regard to overtime pay for overtime hours worked. For some companies, overtime class action lawsuits changed all that; for other companies, the educational process is moving a little more slowly. Since underpaid California employees can sue for at least four years of back pay, there is good reason for all employers to come around.
The law says that, while every worker is presumed entitled to overtime pay, administrative employees can be denied overtime pay only if they spend more than one-half of their time applying truly independent discretion to their work, and not just on minor or trivial decisions. And, what’s more, this is only one of the factors that employers must prove in order to deny administrative employees overtime pay, and it is a difficult factor to satisfy. In our experience, less than 1 out of 10 administrative support positions can be legally treated as exempt/salaried positions (i.e., no overtime pay or meal/rest period requirements). The other 9 out of 10 administrative support workers should be compensated for all overtime worked and should received all the benefits of employment such as full, off-duty and uninterrupted meal and rest periods.
This bears repeating: Roughly 9 out of 10 administrative workers are entitled to overtime pay. Think about that.
The legal system is set up to “level the playing field” and give workers the power to correct workplace abuses. Cole & Van Note has served California’s workforce for decades as one of the state’s most respected workers’ rights law firms and has recovered massive and record-setting judgments/settlements for employees for workplace abuses. For a confidential discussion of your rights against a former or current employer and/or to submit a claim, contact us for more information.
This information is for illustrative and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice, the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, or as indicative of a particular outcome regarding any legal issue you might have.