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California Overtime: To Be or Not To Be Exempt

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Los Angeles, CA"I've been employed as an IT developer at a bank for 19 years," says Andrew. "During those years, and in response to California law, most of our titles were changed so we would be exempt," he says. The way Andrew sees it, and increasingly, the way California overtime law sees it, Andrew and his co-workers are owed a whole lot of unpaid overtime.

"For the past 19 years, I have had various roles, from computer programmer to tech manager and was a salaried employee for the entire time," says Andrew (not his real name). "I averaged anywhere from 45 to 50 hours a week and sometimes even more hours when we implemented new projects.

Overtime"About five years ago our positions were reclassified and a big emphasis was put on timekeeping. Management was confused about how they handled overtime: should compensation time be awarded or should our schedules be adjusted; there was a lot of shifting around and a lack of clarity regarding how programmers were to charge their time. As well, there was inconsistency among different departments.

About one year ago, we restructured the bank and my title was still exempt. However, it should be non-exempt because people are doing the same duties as me and they are getting paid overtime. In a discussion I had last week with my manager, he agreed that I should not have been classified as exempt since this restructure. He wasn't sure what he should do and what my position should be called.

Regardless of my job description, I believe that I should be getting overtime back-pay for at least the past year. That totals about 150 hours of overtime at time and a half. I also question the 19 years I worked at the bank.

I am not sure what happened with California law but the bank changed its policies about seven years ago and in response to the changes, they changed our titles so we would be exempt.

When I was a manager I tried to understand the new overtime rules and go by the letter but other managers were trying to find loopholes so they wouldn't have to pay overtime.

This whole overtime issue is still murky: over the last year I worked in a position where I should be paid overtime but didn't because of my title. I was a manager for seven years and was not paid overtime for a total of 12 years. Right now I have legal help to determine how far I can go back and get compensation."

Next week we will interview a California labor law lawyer to help de-mystify the exempt issue.

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California Overtime Legal Help

If you work in California and you feel that you are owed overtime pay, please contact a [California Overtime Lawyer] who will review your case at no cost or obligation.

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