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CA Labor Laws: I am a management employee working at a large corp., and am being forced to train and cover for a union strike.

Tustin, CA |

3 Questions, with attention to CA labor details:
1. The corporation is forcing us, under threat of termination, to train on nights/weekends in addition to our regular work/hours, for the purpose of covering for these union jobs/hourly positions. Are we entitled to additional compensation?
2. In the event of a strike by the union, the corporation is forcing management employees to cover the union jobs, for 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, without additional compensation and under threat of termination. Under CA law should we be compensated differently/additionally?
3. The corporation has, under threat of termination, forbidden management employees from taking vacation from April - December 2009, to ensure that we are available to cover jobs in the event of a strike. Legal in CA ?

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Attorney answers 2


This issue is to be expected in a tough economic environment. What you are describing creates a mis-classification issue. In order to properlly classify employees as salaried, the employees must meet the tests for salaried employment -- CA has some of the toughest, pro-employee laws on the books.

If more than 1/2 your day is spent in non-management work, you are improperly classified as salaried, and the employer can be forced (in a lawsuit) to pay you overtime compensation. the laws on breaks would also kick in. (If those amounts are not paid at termination, penalty wages would also be owed.)

You have 4 years to file suit -- for each pay period that you are claiming the right to overtime pay.

There are various ways to address this, and it makes sense to talk to an attorney while you are still employed. . . .but the best advice is to document what is going on -- if management is forcing you to do these things by writing emails, keep a copy of the emails -- if everything is verbal, document by sending non-threatening emails

I think the last requirement is okay -- management can direct when vacation is taken -- although, in this case, that's a pretty severe restriction, so I would need to research the issue a bit more -- (note that a use it or lose it policy is illegal. . . )


Many employees who are paid a salary who are entitled to overtime, and there are many people who are paid hourly who don’t get any overtime. In California, everyone is entitled to overtime pay, unless they meet one or more of the narrowly defined exemptions. The major exemptions are : Executive, Administrative, Professional, and the Computer Professional Exemptions. If you don’t meet all of the requirements for at least one of these exemptions then you are entitled to overtime pay. I assume you believe you're exempt because you are managment employee. In order to be exempt from overtime pay under the Executive Exemption, you must be must be paid a salary of at least $640/week and:

Manage the entire enterprise in which you work or a customarily recognized department or subdivision.
Direct the work of at least 2 subordinates in your department.
Have authority to hire or fire — directly or indirectly.
Exercise independent business judgment.
Spend more than 50% of your time doing the above.

An employee must be in charge of the unit, not simply participate in the management of the unit. Most low and mid level managers are improperly classified under this exemption. If you were told you were not entitled to overtime because you are a "manager," contact my firm and I can tell you whether or not this exemption might apply to you.