AT&T, a leader in telecommunication services, including home phones, cell phones and hi-speed internet has reached a settlement with Cathy Birdsong, a former AT&T employee, accusing the company of  failing to pay overtime or provide meal and rest breaks.

According to the complaint,  AT&T misclassified Birdsong and other California business manager employees as “exempt” as a tactic to deny them overtime compensation and other benefits. Birdsong said most of her job duties consisted of work that did not qualify as exempt status.

The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) states that  only “exempt” employees are exempt from being paid overtime.  The FLSA has some exemptions that justify an employee’s job being classified as exempt and they are:

1. The Executive Exemption
These employees have the authority to hire and fire other employees, as well as affect promotional decisions. They must manage at least two full-time direct reports or their equivalent.
2. The Administrative Exemption
These employees must be trusted to exercise independent judgment and discretion in “matters of significance” performing office or non-manual work. These employees should be creating and influencing policies, not just following them.
3. The Professional Exemption
This exemption actually has two parts to it. The first is the Learned Professional. This requires knowledge in a field of learning or science that is acquired by prolonged instruction. Work is intellectual in nature and requires exercise of discretion and judgment.   An academic degree or credential is usually required as proof of this advanced learning; providing evidence that the employee satisfies “specialized intellectual instruction.” Examples of these types of jobs include: doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and architects.
The second professional exemption is the creative professional. These people engage in work that requires invention, imagination, originality, or talent. Examples of these jobs include those in the field of music, writing, acting, and graphic arts.
4. The  Compensation Exemption
The minimum salary requirement in California is 2 times the minimum wage hourly rate of pay, or 2 x $8 = $16  (California’s minimum wage is $8/hour) and the employee must perform one of the duties of an exempt executive, administrative, or profession employee.
5. The Outside Sales Exemption
These sales people must spend the majority of their time out of the office soliciting sales, customer orders, and contracts.

If you have been classified incorrectly and your employer owes you overtime pay, please give California Employment Attorney, Todd M. Friedman a call for a free consultation.