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A California Court of Appeal recently denied a claim for overtime pay by a restaurant manager.

Geraldo Ramirez worked as a restaurant manager between 2008 and 2012.  Mr. Ramirez earned a salary of $43,000 annually.  As the restaurant manager, Mr. Ramirez worked around 50 hours every week.  In December 2012, the restaurant fired Mr. Ramirez after they had to close down one of two locations.    After he was fired, Mr. Ramirez decided to file an overtime lawsuit.

As the restaurant manager, Mr. Ramirez handled various duties.  Mr. Ramirez handled sales and accounting, he handled the buying of products for the restaurant, coordinated, prepared and delivered catering for events, and even spent some time doing marketing.  Mr. Ramirez also helped prepare the food and provided customer service.

Working 50 or more hours per week, Mr. Ramirez did not receive overtime compensation because the restaurant paid him a salary.  The restaurant felt like Mr. Ramirez fell within the executive exemption, and was therefore not entitled to overtime pay.  The executive exemption allows employers to pay employees a salary, without overtime and other benefits, if the employee holds an executive, managerial position.

Mr. Ramirez argued that the restaurant’s decision to treat him as an exempt employee violated the labor code.  He felt that most of the time he spent working as a restaurant manager involved non-managerial duties.  Mr. Ramirez argued that preparing the food and serving it to customers were non-managerial functions that made him non-exempt.  He therefore argued that he should have been paid overtime all along.

The Court disagreed.  After investigating the evidence, the Court found that Mr. Ramirez spent about 20 hours every week doing non-managerial type work.  Doing simple math, the court determined that Mr. Ramirez spent about 40% of his time performing non-exempt, non-managerial duties.  On the other hand, Mr. Ramirez spent about 60%, more than half, of his time, performing exempt, managerial duties.  The Court decided that because Mr. Ramirez spent most of the time doing managerial duties, he was exempt, and was not entitled to overtime.

Unlike Mr. Ramirez, however, many restaurant managers spend more than half of their time performing non-managerial work.  If you believe you are entitled to overtime pay because your employer is wrongfully treating you as an exempt employee, please do not hesitate to contact our California employment attorney at Zakay Law Group.