I use "professional" strictly in the legal sense of the word. It has nothing to do with how hard you work, whether you act and dress professionally, or if you work in an office. You may be highly intelligent and educated, and you may do a very important and valuable service for society, but this doesn't necessarily mean you are a "professional," according to California law.
If you are insulted by my usage, you're wasting your time getting angry at me.
Without getting overly technical, let me explain. Pursuant to California law, there are five categories of "professionals" who are exempt from overtime pay requirements:
- Executives. To be an "executive," you must get a salary of at least $640 a week and (a) manage a whole department, (b) direct the work of at least two subordinates, (c) have the authority to hire and fire, (d) exercise independent business judgment, and (e) spend more than 50% of your time doing (a) through (d).
- Administrators. If you spend over half your work time assisting the proprietor or other exempt individuals in "servicing" a business in matters of significance, you are exempt. Basically, this means you don't do "production" work, i.e., you support the business itself, rather than make the end product. You exercise discretion and independent judgment. You must also earn a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
- Learned/Artistic Professionals. To qualify for this, you must (a) be licensed by the State of California in an area such as law, medicine, engineering, accounting, etc. and be working in that field; or (b) have an advanced degree beyond a bachelor's degree (i.e., at least a Masters) and perform work that requires that degree in a way that is varied and intellectual; or (c) work in a field of artistic endeavor (e.g., actors, screenwriters, artists, etc.); and (d) exercise discretion and independent judgment for one of (a) through (c); and (e) be paid a basic minimum salary.
- Computer Professionals. If you spend more than 50% of your time on the analysis or design of software (i.e., highly theoretical aspects) and make over $41.00 an hour, then you qualify.
- Outside Salespersons. If you are a salesperson who regularly spends over 50% of your time engaged in sales away from your employer's place of business, then you qualify.
In essence, if you get paid for overtime, by definition, you are not a "professional" under California law. I'm sorry if you don't agree with this, but I didn't invent this categorization.
Take your grievances to legislature.
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UPDATE: My dearest Kerfuffle, a seasoned labor/employment attorney, has come through. Please note the following correction from her:
Under the Wage Orders (the regs interpreting the Labor Code), the professional exemption includes employees who are "licensed or certified by the State of California and . . . primarily engaged in the practice of one of the following recognized professions: law, medicine, dentistry, optometry, architecture, engineering, teaching, or accounting."
So, in CA, I am pretty sure that licensed teachers are professionals exempt from OT, and unlicensed teachers are not. (Under the FLSA I think even unlicensed teachers are, so you were right that CA is different from federal law.)
Now all you teachers can sleep happily tonight, knowing you are indeed "professionals," and I am wrong, wrong, wrong to say that you're not.
Commence smug looks now!
Commence smug looks now!