Wage and Hour Attorney

Wage and Hour Attorney
Los Angeles, California


If you believe that you have received unfair treatment from your employer regarding unpaid wages, wage theft, wrongful termination without pay, refusal to issue overtime pay, hour violations, or unpaid minimum wage violations, you should immediately seek a Los Angeles employment lawyer. Colby Law Firm is here to be of service to you during this difficult time.

Our labor lawyers are well-versed in California labor law. Whether you are an exempt employee, nonexempt employee, minimum wage employee, or independent contractor, you deserve to be fully protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Work with a Colby Law Firm employment lawyer to hold your California employer accountable for misclassifying employees, hour violations, and unpaid minimum wage claims. Our law firm can help with individual cases, as well as any class action lawsuit. If you are looking to receive fair compensation, you need a wage and hour attorney in Los Angeles you can trust. You need Colby Law Firm.

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Exempt or Non-Exempt


An exempt employee is someone whose job is not subject to one or more sets of wage and hour laws. Labor Code § 515 (a); California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11010-11170. An exempt employee is normally an executive, administrative or professional employee, often referred to as a “white collar” employee. Other exempt employee types include some salespeople and computer professionals. Generally, exempt employees are key personnel who possess management and decision-making responsibilities. Employees are non-exempt unless they clearly meet the salary and job duties tests of an exempt position.

An employee must “plainly and unmistakably” meet the standard required for the exemption. Nordquist v. McGraw-Hill Broadcasting Co., 32 Cal.App.4th 555, 562 (1995). This standard strongly favors the employee, and the employer has the legal burden of proving an exemption. Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co., Inc., 20 Cal.4th 785, 794–795 (1999).

There are generally three requirements to determine whether an employee is exempt. If all three requirements are met, the employee will usually be classified as “exempt” from minimum wage, overtime, and break requirements. There are some jobs that are subject to a different test altogether. Some employees are only partially exempt, meaning, they are protected by certain labor laws, but not others.

Exempt or Non
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Minimum Salary Threshold

The employee must be paid a salary that is at least twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment.

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White Collar Job Duties

The employee’s primary duties must consist of administrative, executive, or professional tasks.

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Independent Judgment

The employee’s job duties must involve the use of discretion and independent judgment. Labor Code § 515 (a).

“Salaried Non-Exempt”


Employers trying to avoid daily timekeeping and other requirements for non-exempt employees may be tempted to treat non-exempt employees as “salaried non-exempt” by paying them a flat amount for 40 hours per week and then a set amount for overtime. However, employers who treat any workers as “salaried non-exempt”, even those who never or rarely work overtime, face risk of violating the law because:



“Belo contracts” and the “fluctuating workweek method,” while permitted under federal law, are illegal in California. DLSE Enforcement Manual §§ 41.1.6, 41.1.7, 41.1.8, 48.1.5, 48.1.5,,, 49.2,; Labor Code § 515.


An hourly rate is needed for paying meal and rest break premiums. Labor Code § 226.7.

An hourly rate is needed for pay stub compliance. Labor Code § 226a.


Time records are needed for non-exempt employees showing when they begin and end each work period, including meal breaks, split shift intervals and total daily hours worked shall also be recorded; however, meal breaks during which operations cease and authorized rest periods need not be recorded. Labor Code section 1174; California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11010-11170 (7).

Minimum Salary Threshold


The most common exemptions – the “white collar” exemptions, i.e., executive, administrative, professional – require employees to earn a minimum monthly salary of no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment, and the salary must be a predetermined sum. Labor Code § 515(a). There are different rules for some employees, such as hourly physicians, computer professionals and salespersons.

To meet the minimum salary requirement for exempt employees, the applicable minimum wage must be multiplied by two, and then multiplied by 40 hours per week. That gives us a weekly salary that is twice the minimum wage. These numbers are calculated by doubling the applicable minimum wage, multiplying that amount by 40 hours per week, the result of which is then multiplied by 52 weeks and divided by 12 months. This calculation gives us a monthly salary that is equal to twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment. Labor Code § 515(a).


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Salary Threshold

Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum salary threshold is $58,240 per year (or $1,120 per week) for employers of 26 or more employees, and $54,080 per year (or $1,040 per week) for employers of 25 or fewer employees.

Predetermined Pay

Predetermined Pay

The employee’s pay must be predetermined, and cannot change based on the number of hours worked or the quality of the work performed. Negri v. Koning & Associates, 216 Cal.App.4th 392, 398 (2013); Kettenring v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist., 167 Cal.App.4th 507, 513–514 (2008); 29 C.F.R. § 541.602(a).

Salary Test

Salary Test

The “salary test” required for overtime exemptions provides that an employee must be paid a full weekly salary for any week in which any work is performed. This minimum amount may not be prorated for part-time work. DLSE Enforcement Manual § 51.6.3.

Partial Pay

Partial Pay

If an employee works any part of a day, they must be paid in full; no salary deduction is allowed. However, deductions can be made from any vacation, PTO or paid sick leave balance for the hours not worked. While courts have suggested that employers can deduct from an employee’s pay for full-day absences and still consider the employee to be paid on a salary basis. But the employee would no longer be considered “salaried” if the employer deducted for partial-day absences. Conley v. Pacific Gas and Elec. Co., 131 Cal.App.4th 260, 267 (2005); 29 C.F.R. § 541.602(b)(1).

Job Duties

Job Duties


Under the most common exemptions — e.g., the executive, administrative, and professional, in order for employees to be exempt, they must generally meet strict job duties tests particular to each exemption.

Job titles alone do not designate an employee as exempt or nonexempt. An employee with an impressive job title may not qualify as an exempt employee if his/her actual duties do not meet the exemption requirements. 29 C.F.R. § 541.2; Negri v. Koning & Associates, 216 Cal.App.4th 392, 398 (2013). An employee who performs routine bookkeeping tasks does not become an exempt employee when given the title “controller” rather than “bookkeeper.” Giving an employee the title of “store manager” does not make him/her exempt if he/she opens or closes the store alone, serves customers, maintains merchandise displays and performs the work of a retail clerk.

Most exemptions require the employee to be “primarily engaged” in exempt duties. In general, the employee must spend more than 50 percent of his/her time performing exempt duties. To determine if the employee primarily engages in exempt work, all the work that the employee performs during the workweek is examined. The amount of time the employee spends on exempt work, as well as the employer’s realistic expectations and the realistic requirements of the job are considered. Labor Code § 515 (e); DLSE Enforcement Manual 51.2.

Independent Judgment


To qualify as an exempt employee, they must regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment in performing their duties. Labor Code § 515 (a).

An employee exercises discretion and independent judgment when making and implementing important choices after considering competing courses of action. 29 C.F.R. § 541.202(a).

An employee’s judgment is independent when it is free from immediate direction or supervision, even if an employee who is higher in the management chain has the authority to override the decision. 29 C.F.R. § 541.202(c).

Independent Judgment
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Executive (Manager) Exemption


An employee is considered employed in an executive capacity when: their primary duty is the management of a business or one of its departments; they regularly direct the work of two or more other employees; and, they have the authority to hire and fire employees, or to make recommendations about hiring, firing, promotions, and wages that are given particular weight. California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11010-11170 (1)(A)(1).

Management includes such activities as hiring, firing, training, supervising, and disciplining employees; making work assignments; resolving employee grievances; maintaining production or sales records; ordering materials or inventory; and planning a budget. 29 C.F.R. § 541.102.

Administrative Exemption


An employee is considered employed in an administrative capacity if their primary duty is office or non-manual work directly related to management or general business operations. California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11010-11170 (1)(A)(2).

Work relates to management or general business operations when the employee assists in running the business. 29 C.F.R. § 541.201(a). Secretaries, store clerks, bookkeepers, and lead operators on production lines cannot be classified as administrative employees because they do not help run the business.

Examples of duties that relate to management or general business operations include responsibility for marketing, research, budgeting, finance, accounting, purchasing, quality control, human resources, labor or government relations, regulatory compliance, and database administration. 29 C.F.R. § 541.201(b).


Professional Exemption

The professional employee exemption is fact-specific and depends on the nature of the work that the employee primarily undertakes. 29 C.F.R. § 541.300; California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11010-11170 (1)(A)(3). Registered nurses who are employed to engage in the practice of nursing are not exempt professionals, but they might still be exempt as administrators or executives. Labor Code § 515 (f)(1). There are three types of professional employees that can qualify for exemptions:

Outside Salesperson Exemption


Employees who are considered “outside salespersons” are generally considered exempt employees. California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11010-11170 (1)(C).

An outside salesperson is defined as someone: at least 18 years old, spends more than half of their working time away from their employer’s place of business, and sells items, services, contracts, or the use of facilities. California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11010-11170 (2)(M).

Inside Salesperson Exemption


Employees who are paid on a commission basis are sometimes exempt from California’s overtime pay laws, but not breaks.

Commissions are wage payments that an employee is entitled to as a result of sales they make. In a commission-based arrangement, the size of the employee’s compensation depends on the amount or value of the thing that was sold. Commissions are “compensation paid to any person for services rendered in the sale of such employer’s property or services and based proportionately upon the amount or value thereof.” Labor Code § 204.1; Areso v. CarMax, , 195 Cal.App.4th 996, 1003 (2011).

A discretionary payment that an employer can choose to pay or withhold, such as a performance bonus, is not a commission even if it is computed as a percentage of sales or profits. Labor Code § 2751 (c).

  • To qualify for this exemption, the following requirements must be met:
  • Commission payments constitute more than half of the employee’s total compensation.
  • The employee’s earnings are more than one-and-a-half times the minimum wage.
  • They work in either: the retail industry, or a professional, technical, or clerical occupation. California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11010-11170 (3)(D).

Computer Professionals Exemption

Employees in the computer software field are sometimes exempt for the purposes of overtime compensation. Labor Code § 515.5. To qualify for this exemption, the following requirements must be met:

Physicians and Surgeons Exemption


Licensed physicians and surgeons are sometimes exempt for the purposes of overtime compensation.The applicability of this exemption is limited. Medical interns and residents do not qualify. Nor do physicians covered by certain types of collective bargaining agreements. Labor Code § 515.6 (b).

To fall under this exemption, the physician or surgeon must:

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$86.49 per hour

Be paid at an hourly rate of at least $86.49 per hour, effective January 1, 2021.

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License Requirement

Perform, as their primary duties, tasks that require them to be licensed. Labor Code § 515.6; DLSE Guidance.

Truck Driver Exemption


Some truck drivers are exempt from California’s overtime laws, but not other laws, like meals breaks or the minimum wage. California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11090(3)(L).

This exemption applies to interstate truck drivers and drivers who transport hazardous materials. California Code of Regs., tit. 8 § 11090(3)(L); 49 C.F.R. §§ 395.1–395.13.

Truck Driver

Union Exemption


Union employees are sometimes exempt from California’s overtime laws. To qualify as exempt, the employees must be employed under a collective bargaining agreement that expressly provides for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of the employees. Labor Code § 514.

The collective bargaining agreement must provide premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked and a regular hourly rate of pay of at least 30% more than the state minimum wage. Labor Code § 514.

Private School Teacher Exemption


Many teachers are exempt under the professional exemption described above. But some teachers at private schools are exempt even if they don’t meet those requirements. Instead, they will be considered exempt if they:

  • Teach students who are in kindergarten or any of grades 1 through 12,
  • Earn at least twice the state’s minimum wage, and
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or higher) from an accredited institution of higher learning, or they meet the requirements for a teaching credential from California or any other state. Labor Code § 515.8.

Specific Overtime Exemptions

Live-in household employees. California Code Regs., tit. 8 § 11150(3).

Personal attendants. California Code Regs., tit. 8 § 11150(3).

Camp counselors. California Code Regs., tit. 8 § 11150(3).

Managers of homes for the aged. California Code Regs., tit. 8 § 11150(3).

Certain providers of 24-hour residential childcare. California Code Regs., tit. 8 § 11150(3).

Ambulance drivers and attendants. California Code Regs., tit. 8 § 11150(3).

Agricultural occupations. California Code Regs. tit. 8 § 11140(3).

Spouse, children, and parents of the employer. California Code Regs., tit. 8 § 11040(1)(D).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Be Forced to be On Call With No Pay?

In most cases, an employer does have the right to require employees to be on call and to report as called in. Typically, only the time actually spent working is paid.

Your employer does have the right to require you to be on call. Usually, your employment contract can provide information on the “on call” requirements your employer has. This can help to guide you in determining if you can be forced to be on call with no pay. It may also help you determine if your employer’s demands violate your employment contract.

Typically, an “on call” worker is not paid unless he is called in to work.

There are state laws that cover how that time is to be paid. Normally, an employee who is on call can still engage in most aspects of their life as usual. The difference is that the employer has put the employee on call and asks that you be ready to go to work if called. For that reason, it is not uncommon to see the employer require on call staff to remain sober while on call.

California does not require employers to pay for the on call hours where the employee is not directly working for the employer but it is advisable to consult with a competent law firm to clarify what you can and cannot be paid for while on call and if your employment contract has been violated. Consider Colby Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation.

Should I be an Exempt Employee?

To qualify as an exempt employee your job must fit the requirements for exempt employee status. Understanding the difference between an exempt employee and a non-exempt employee is the first step. When you are exempt, your job is not subject to the state and federal laws that govern how to pay wages and hourly rates. When you are a non-exempt employees your job is subject to the state and federal laws that govern how to pay wages and hourly rates.

If your job doesn’t qualify for exempt status, then you cannot be an exempt employee. Usually, there are three criteria that must be met to be an exempt employee but there are exceptions to the rule. If your job requires you to make independent decisions or judgement calls, is mostly an administrative, executive or managerial type position and your salary is at least twice the amount of California’s minimum wage for full time employees then you qualify as exempt.

And some employees are only partially exempt. This means, they are protected by some labor laws, but not others. If your employer has qualified you as an exempt employee and you do not feel that it is valid, you should seek competent legal advice. You can contact Colby Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation as your first step.

Colby Law Firm is a California Employment Firm who fights for the rights of the employee. Our firm was started by Aaron Colby who spent 15 years working “for the other side” before he started his own firm to work for the employee. Contact us for your free and confidential consultation.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Wage and Hour Cases?

If you have been a victim of wage theft and are considering pursuing a wage and hour case, the first thing you’ll need to know is the statute of limitations. The simple answer is yes there is a statue of limitations for wage and hour cases, however the statue of limitations can be either three years, two years or four years depending upon a number of factors.

That’s why your first action should be to reach out to a competent law firm that can assist you with your case. In California, that firm is Colby Law Firm. We provide free and confidential consultations to employees.

Colby Law firm was started by Aaron Colby who worked for employers for fifteen years before he opened his own firm to represent employees. He brings all his knowledge of the California labor laws and how employers use those laws to their advantage to help win your case.

Depending upon the circumstances surrounding your wage and hour case, you may qualify for recovering more than just the unpaid wages. Please reach out to Colby Law Firm and request a free and confidential case review. They’re here to help you.


What Our Clients Say

Manny Millanponce
September 20, 2022.
So far I’m really happy with their help and consideration to help people who needs it.
Liat Frydman
March 29, 2022.
Colby Law Firm is one of the best in the business. Aaron and his staff are extremely professional, very knowledgeable kind and supportive. My experience with Colby Law Firm from the first phone call to our last text communication was superb. The end results.... they fought for me and won! I will definitely recommend Colby Law Firm to all my friends and colleagues. Liat Frydman
Joella Still
November 11, 2021.
It’s truly been a pleasure working with Aaron and the women on his team. I will definitely be referring people to them simply because they not only handled this matter professionally, but also empathetically during a really hard time for me. Dealing with wrongful termination and discrimination and especially during a global pandemic, it was really important to find an employment attorney who could understand the situation, the subtleties, nuances, etc. The case was resolved relatively quickly and I felt that they really put in the time to end up with a favorable outcome. If you choose them, you’re really in great hands.
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October 16, 2021.
Colby Law Firm got me the results I wanted, quickly. They managed my expectations properly and exceeded them in the end. They are the best employment attorneys I know, and I strongly recommend them for anyone who has questions about harassment, discrimination or wrongful termination.
Roberto Gutierrez
August 24, 2021.
Aaron and his team did an amazing job representing me. They worked really hard for me and got me a larger settlement than I had expected. They were professional, caring, and very responsive. They kept me in the loop on what was happening and if I needed help or had a question, they were very quick to respond.
Ashley Chejade-Bloom
June 7, 2021.
Aaron Colby is the best employment attorney, who will get you the results you want, every time - he is a person you want on your team. He is extremely responsive and truly cares about the businesses (and founders) he represents. I strongly recommend Colby Law Firm to anyone who has questions about harassment, discrimination or wrongful termination.
Aaron Baker
June 5, 2021.
The Colby Law Firm are the best employment attorneys. They’re a great firm for anyone who has questions about harassment, discrimination or wrongful termination. Their candid and direct approach to educating their clients sets them apart from other firms.
Jeffrey Greenblatt
June 5, 2021.
Colby Law Firm is simply remarkable. Their employment attorneys are efficient and effective, and you always know you have the sharper advocate on your side in all employment law issues (such as discrimination, harassment, unpaid wages, wrongful termination, etc). Highly recommend this law firm for anyone who needs a candid assessment with any employer/employee issues they face.

Why Choose

Colby Law Firm

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Aaron Colby is a California employment lawyer who knows how to resolve disputes. After 15 years representing companies, he started Colby Law Firm to represent employees. Aaron’s perspective and experience from being “on the other side” gives him an edge. Aaron brings his practical, focused, and relentless approach to helping employees protect their rights.

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Aaron Colby
Lead Attorney and Founder Colby Law