Law School Grads Exempt from Overtime Pay

In Zelasco-Barrett v. Brayton-Purcell LLP (No. A130540), Matthew Zelasco-Barrett and his employment law attorney sued Brayton in a wage and hour claim for overtime pay. Barrett and his attorney claimed that he should not have been classified as exempt from overtime pay during the time between when he graduated law school and when he passed the bar exam to become a licensed attorney. Barrett worked for Brayton after graduation but before passing the exam from August 2007 to June 2009 as a law clerk. He was promoted to an associate after being admitted to the bar to be an attorney. During the time Barrett was a law clerk, he spent most of his time doing tasks that a junior associate would but with supervision from a licensed attorney. The court found for Brayton that Barrett was properly classified as exempt from overtime pay.

The California Court of Appeals also found in favor of Brayton on the wage and hour claim brought against them by Barrett. The professional exemption to overtime pay removes employer's obligation to pay overtime to employees who meet the requirements as defined in California's wage and hour laws. The court first found that Barrett was primarily engaged in work that a professional licensed attorney would do and second, although he was supervised, he had the ability to exercise discretion and independent judgment in his work.