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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 34115
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Regarding the definition of a Professional who is exempted

Customer Question

Regarding the definition of a Professional who is exempted from labor laws:

"Earns a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment. Based on the state minimum wage of $8.00 per hour, an exempt employee must be paid no less than $2773.34 per month ($8.00 x 2080 = 16,640, times two = 33,280, divided by 12 = $2773.34)."

Is the $33,280 a salary threshold or a number that can be divided by the number of hours worked? I am a part time teacher in a private school and want to know if the Professional designation applies to me in this particular.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 2 years ago.
Private elementary and secondary school teachers (grades 1 through 12) are exempt from overtime pay requirements if:their monthly salary is at least twice the state minimum wage; and they hold either a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning, or a teaching credential from California or any other state. LaborCode § 515.8.

As a part-time employee, you cannot be considered salary-exempt from overtime under professional exemption (IWC Order 4-2001 1.(A)(3)(d)), unless you earn at least $2,773.33 per month -- regardless of the number of hours worked.

Hope this helps.

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socrateaser, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 34115
Experience: Retired (mostly)
socrateaser and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Because my employer has intrepreted the monthly salary requirement as something they can dividide by the number of hours worded, do you know of a case that substantiates that the salary requirement is a set number irregardless?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 2 years ago.
After conducting further research, it appears that the California Supreme Court does not concur with my interpretation of Labor Code 515.8.

In Kettenring v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist., 167 Cal. App. 4th 507 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2008) (cert. denied), the 2nd District Court of Appeals held that "[part-time] adult education teachers are paid on a 'salary basis,'" where their compensation is “annualized and paid in twelve (12) equal monthly installments," and they are paid a “predetermined amount constituting all or part of [their] compensation, which amount is not subject to reduction because of variations in the … quantity of the work performed.” (29 C.F.R. § 541.602(a) (2007).

Thus, the current state of law appears to be, that if:

  1. The employee is primarily engaged in the duty of imparting knowledge to pupils by teaching, instructing, or lecturing; and
  2. The employee customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment in performing the duties of a teacher; and
  3. The employee earns a monthly salary equivalent [emphasis added] to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment, which “annualized and paid in twelve (12) equal monthly installments," and they are paid a “predetermined amount constituting all or part of [their] compensation, which amount is not subject to reduction because of variations in the … quantity of the work performed;” and
  4. The employee has attained at least one of the following levels of professional advancement:

  • (A) A baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
  • (B) Current compliance with the requirements established by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, or the equivalent certification authority in another state, for obtaining a preliminary or alternative teaching credential.

Then the employee is considered salary-exempt, despite not being paid $2,733.33 per month.

Hope this helps.


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I read this one too because it was the only one I could find on the internet. I thought the issue here was whether or not the teacher was an hourly or salaried employee. There is no indication in the case that the teacher made less than 27,33.00. On the contrary, I thought that might the one of the reasons for upholding his professional status. Because I'm not a lawyer, I don't have access to any data bases with further cases.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 2 years ago.
There are no other California cases, and my database covers every case ever reported in every U.S. state and federal jurisdiction.

The Kettering case cites to a persuasive decision by the Washington State Supreme Court: Clawson v. Grays Harbor College Dist. No. 2, 148 Wn.2d 528 (2003). This decision more directly supports the position that salary-exempt status is satisfied where the professional's pay is the minimum salary requirement divided by hours worked, as long as the total pay does not change from one workweek to another.

The legal issue is not entirely foreclosed, because both Kettering and Clawson were based upon public employment. There are no cases yet that consider the issue in a private school setting. However, I don't see why the result would be different.

Anyway, if you want to read the Clawson case, here's the link.

Hope this helps.

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