You should set an appointment with an employment attorney to discuss your case further. This is probably the one area that is most overlooked by employers. In fact, most employers probably don't know the exempt/non-exempt rules.
The above statements are provided as general information and not intended as legal advice. Each matter has its own set of unique circumstances that cannot be adequately addressed without consultation. You are strongly advised to hire an attorney licensed to practice law in your state to represent you.
Your first step should be to contact the attorneys that are already suing your company for related practices. These attorneys may be able to expand the existing suit to include your claims, or they may know of attorneys who are already schooled on your company's personnel practices. If so, these are the attorneys who would offer you a significant advantage in moving on any claims.
Be careful about suing your employer. The law "protects" you against retaliation, of course, but it does not prevent improper employer action. It only offers potential redress.
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That's not quite right. You don't need to have the ability to hire and fire. Instead, it can be sufficient that your input on personnel decisions be given "particular weight."
Your type of claim is called a misclassification case -- the issue is whether the company has misclassified you as exempt. This is a common issue. You need to work through this with an employment lawyer.