California Professional Exemption (2023)

California exempt employees & the professional exemption

Some employees, know as “California exempt employees,” are not required to be paid the California minimum wage or California overtime rates under the California labor code. While there is both a federal and California professional exemption, California has its own requirements for an employee to be classified as exempt.

When a California employer classifies a professional worker as “exempt” when they don’t meet the requirements for exemption under California labor law, the employer has misclassified the employee as exempt. The California labor code penalties for misclassification can be substantial. For example, the California independent contractor misclassification penalty is up to $25,000 per misclassified worker.

What is the California professional exemption?

The California professional exemption generally applies to licensed employees, such as lawyers, doctors, dentists, optometrists, architects, engineers, teachers, or accountants. It may also include creative professionals engaged in a learned or artistic profession, such as music, writing, theater, or graphic arts.

To be considered exempt under the 2023 California professional exemption, the employee must:

    • Earn a salary of more than $64,480 per year;
    • Perform tasks which are intellectual, creative, and vary in nature (as opposed to routine mental, manual, mechanical, or physical work); and
    • Exercise discretion and independent judgment in the performance of their duties.

mug of a misclassified california exempt professional employee

Federal law has a similar federal professional exemption.

Find out if you're misclassified as a California exempt professional employee:


Learn More about California Exempt Employee Law

Our Attorneys Who Represent California Professional Employees

Steven Tindall

Steven specializes in employment litigation and has been lead or co-lead counsel on several cases that resulted in settlements of over $1 million.

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Amanda Karl

Amanda represents employees, consumers, and sexual assault survivors in complex class actions. She also leads the firm’s Voting Rights Task Force.

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Steve Lopez

Steve represents consumers, employees, and whistleblowers harmed by corporate misconduct in a variety of complex litigation cases.

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Linda Lam

Linda focuses her practice on representing consumers, small businesses, and employees in complex litigation.

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Our California Employment Practice

Our California employment attorneys – with over 50 years of collective experience litigating under California employment law – know how to fight for employees’ rights and get them the money they deserve. We’ve recovered tens of millions of dollars for California employees and represent individuals as well as class actions in virtually every area of California employment and labor laws: California overtime law, off the clock violations in CA, breach of contract disputes, California independent contractor law, sexual harassment, employee misclassification, discrimination, as well as mass layoffs in violation of the California WARN Act. Our California employment lawyers are repeatedly recognized for their expertise litigating in California. Founding partner Eric Gibbs has been selected as one of the Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California. And seventeen of the firm’s attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, a distinction received by less than 5% of attorneys in Northern California.

About Us

Gibbs Law Group is a California-based law firm committed to protecting the rights of clients nationwide who have been harmed by corporate misconduct. We represent individuals, whistleblowers, employees, and small businesses across the U.S. against the world’s largest corporations. Our award-winning lawyers have achieved landmark recoveries and over a billion dollars for our clients in high-stakes class action and individual cases involving consumer protection, data breach, digital privacy, and federal and California employment lawsuits. Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California,” “Top Class Action Attorneys Under 40,” “Consumer Protection MVP,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “Top Cybersecurity/ Privacy Attorneys Under 40.”
titan of plaintiffs bar award
best law firm ranking
chambers USA leading firms award
daily journal top plaintiff lawyers award

Classified as a California Exempt Professional?

You may be misclassified. Contact us for a no cost consultation.