Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. My goal is to answer your question completely and thoroughly and to provide excellent service.
I am very sorry to hear about your husband's employment situation and hope I can provide some helpful information.
It is illegal to mis-classify a work as exempt so as to avoid paying overtime. Since you state that your husband's employer "re-hired" him in a "new" position but his duties were essentially the same as his previous position, which was not exempt, then it would appear that this attempt to rehire and reclassify may be an illegal attempt to avoid paying overtime. This is a reportable offense and if the Department of Labor determines that your husband's position is not exempt, he would be entitled to back pay for all overtime worked plus interest.
For the purpose of determining whether your husband is exempt, the Labor Board will examine whether the actual duties
your husband engages in fit within one of the following categories of jobs: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_OvertimeExemptions.htm
To the extent that your husband is not being paid the prevailing rate on public contracts, that too is illegal and would entitle an individual in your husband's position to back pay in the amount of the difference between his actual wage and the prevailing rate.
As extreme and outrageous as it is for a boss to yell and threaten to "beat up" employees, this is typically not illegal unless actual physical force is employed, in which case that conduct would constitute an assault and battery. Contrary to what most people believe, there is no requirement that an employer be nice or courteous in the workplace and verbal threats and insults are only illegal if they attack an employee on the basis of that employee's race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation.
So to summarize, it is illegal for an employer to mis-classify workers as exempt so as to avoid paying overtime. The Labor Board will examine the job duties your husband actually takes on, not merely what is title is. An individual in your husband's circumstance must also be paid the prevailing wage on all public contracts. Unfortunately, however, no legal cause of action would typically arise from verbal abuse unless it either accompanied physical abuse or targeted your husband on the basis of his race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., as discussed above.
To file a wage claim with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, visit this link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htm
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