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Los Angeles Employee Misclassification Lawyer

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Employee misclassification is an often-misunderstood idea. For the most part, employees aren’t even particularly sure of how they’re classified or how that classification affects the work wages and benefits that they should be receiving. The confusing nature of classification extends to employers as well, who may be misclassifying employees and unknowingly not giving them the compensation or working situation that they are owed. Some employers may even purposefully misclassify their employees to avoid giving them what they’re owed. It’s important to understand what your rights are. If you’ve been misclassified in Los Angeles, CA, contact someone with experience handling employment law, like Shirazi Law Firm, PC.

Employee, Exempt, or Independent Contractor

Employees in California are the beneficiaries of wage and hour laws that require employers to pay a minimum wage, pay overtime pay, and follow the state-outlined schedule for breaks and meals. However, not every working relationship is subject to these rules. There are two exemptions: exempt employees and independent contractors. It’s important to note that whether someone falls into one of those categories is determined by the characteristics of their working relationship, not a contract that they signed with an employer. Contracts are subject to the law, so if the conditions of your employment don’t match either of these categories, then what the contract claims is irrelevant.

Exempt employees fall under what is generally referred to as the “white-collar exemption.” This generally applies to workers in executive roles, professional positions, outside sales, or administrative roles. To be in this category, there are three requirements that must be met:

  • At least half of the employee’s work time must be directly engaged in executive, administrative, or professional duties.
  • They must regularly use their own discretion and judgment on how to perform their job.
  • They must earn at least twice what the minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek would pay.

Independent contractors are another category of people exempt from the wage and hour laws. However, it’s important that it be more than a contract claiming that someone is an independent contractor. Their work relationship with the business must actually match that dynamic. To be considered an independent contractor, California generally uses the ABC test, which says that a worker is an independent contractor if they meet three conditions:

  1. The employer generally leaves them free to perform the work they are contracted for without direction regarding how the work must be performed. In other words, they are contracting for the work produced, not how the work is produced.
  2. The work being conducted is something that is outside the scope of the employer’s usual course of business. In other words, if the employer’s business is to produce a widget, it’s unlikely that someone being hired to produce that widget will be considered an independent contractor.
  3. The independent contract is operating as an established business that provides the work being performed.

What to Do If You’ve Been Misclassified

If you don’t fit the criteria for an exempt employee or independent contractor, then it is quite possible that you’ve been misclassified. If that’s the case, then you should reach out to an experienced employment law firm, like Shirazi Law Firm, PC, to take a look at your case. We can help you understand if you really have been misclassified and what the next steps to take are. You may be owed things like unpaid wages and compensation for missed breaks.

If you’ve been misclassified it is important to document as much as you can. It’s helpful to have records of things like work schedules and pay stubs, as they can help determine how much you are owed in unpaid wages.

Recovering Lost Wages

Exactly what can be recovered in damages from a misclassification claim will depend upon the specifics of each claim. If you are found in court to have been misclassified, the court can order that your employer be required to pay:

  • Unpaid wages
  • Unpaid overtime wages
  • Premiums for missed meal or rest breaks
  • Interest on missed wages
  • Several forms of significant penalties
  • Legal fees and court costs


By law, you are protected from any retaliation on the part of your employer for having filed a wage and hour complaint against them. It’s important to contact a lawyer, as you may have legal recourse against your employer if they do any of the following:

  • Threaten not to promote you because of the complaint.
  • Threaten other disciplinary action.
  • Reduce your pay.
  • Fire you, as this may be grounds for a wrongful termination claim.

Signs of Misclassification

Other than being aware of the descriptions of exempt employees and independent contractors, there are a few things to particularly consider as possible signs of misclassification. If you are classified as exempt, then it is highly unlikely that you would be paid an hourly wage. Therefore, if you are paid hourly, you most likely are a non-exempt employee. The minimum salary requirement is also important to be aware of, as employees who might otherwise fit the category of exempt are often not paid enough to fit it. The minimum salary will change as the minimum wage changes, though it will always be the equivalent of twice what the minimum wage would pay for a year of working 40 hours per week. Currently that number is in the mid-to-high $60k range. Lastly, it’s possible that a change in job duties might mean that an employee is no longer exempt. For instance, they move from a position that involved regularly using their own judgment to one that tends to follow set protocols and orders.

Los Angeles Employment Attorneys FAQs

Q: How Much Can You Recover in Unpaid Wages and Benefits If Your Employer Misclassified You in California?

A: The benefit an employer derives from misclassifying an employee is that they don’t have to give them the same protections they would have with proper classification. In particular, they would not be subject to minimum wages and overtime laws or California laws regarding things like meal and rest breaks. These savings could lead an employer to even knowingly misclassify their employees. Some of the things that you may recover through a complaint include:

  • Unpaid overtime wages
  • Unpaid wages
  • Interest on unpaid wages
  • Premiums for missed meal or rest breaks
  • Several significant types of penalties
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs

Federal law entitles you to double the damages payment if you were misclassified as an exempt worker. Additionally, California law stipulates that there may also be an additional $5,000 to $25,000 civil penalty against your employer if you were intentionally misclassified as an independent contractor.

Q: What Is the Statute of Limitations for Misclassification in California?

A: Addressing misclassification is done through a wage and hour claim. In California, these have a statute of limitations of three to four years. This means that the claim must be filed within 3-4 years from the most recent violation.

Q: What Should I Do If My California Employer Misclassified Me?

A: If you suspect that you’ve been misclassified, then you are able to file a claim for lost wages. There are two things you should do if you suspect misclassification. One is that you will want to collect and document anything that you believe is indicative of your misclassification or anything that can be used to assess how much you’re owed in unpaid wages. For instance, records of hours worked and paystubs can be valuable information.

The second thing you should do is contact us at Shirazi Law Firm, PC, as we can talk through your situation with you and help you understand if you have a case or not. If you do bring the issue up with your employer, don’t agree to anything they offer without first speaking with us. They may attempt to give you something far less than you’re owed. Also, it’s important to realize that your employer is prohibited from committing any kind of retaliation against you for considering or filing a claim.

Q: Is My Classification Just What My Contract Says?

A: Your employment contract is not the final say in terms of your classification. Your employer may point to your agreed-upon contract if you challenge them on possible misclassification. Contracts, though, are subject to the law, not above it. Therefore, it will not be your employment contract that determines the employment relationship; rather, it is employment law. At Shirazi Law Firm, PC, we have plenty of experience with employment law and can help you if you think you’ve been misclassified despite what your contract may say.

Get Help With Your Misclassification

If you’ve been misclassified, then you are likely owed unpaid wages and breaks that you didn’t receive. Unfortunately, your employer isn’t likely to quickly hand over what they’ve taken from you. It may be that the threat of a claim is enough to bring them to their senses, but if not, then you may have to file a complaint against them. They need to know that you’re serious about getting back what you’ve lost. At Shirazi Law Firm, PC, we can help give your claim credibility. We can investigate the circumstances and help you understand your rights to compensation. If needed, we’re ready to aggressively pursue your case through the legal process. If you’re concerned that you’ve been misclassified, don’t wait to contact us and get back what you’re owed.

Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only get paid after you do. Consultations/communications can be virtual if preferred.

“I cannot recommend Mr. Shirazi enough! I was wrongfully terminated from my long term job. I didn’t know where to turn and found Mr. Shirazi. He took the time to talk to me for an hour explaining what legal rights I had. Upon hiring Mr. shirazi he kept me up to date on every step and was honest and upfront with me. He worked miracles and got me a great settlement. Mr Shirazi handles only employment cases and his expertise was invaluable to my case. if you find yourself in need of an employment attorney, Mr. Shirazi is the one to call“

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Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only get paid after you do. Consultations/communications can be virtual if preferred.

“Emanuel Shirazi went above and beyond on my case. My employer treated me so unfairly and I felt like I had no where to turn. I met with Emanuel and he told me: I’ve got your back. This guy is a pit bull who never stops fighting for his clients. So glad he was on my side and not vice versa. Trust me, Emanuel won’t let you down“



Founder Emanuel Shirazi is an employment lawyer in Los Angeles representing employees who have been legally wronged by their employers. In addition to representing employees, Mr. Shirazi used to defend employers while he worked at the largest employment law firms in the country. Thus, Mr. Shirazi knows the tricks of the trade of the other side and will use that to your advantage in your case. Mr. Shirazi’s experience helps him anticipate your employer’s defense and prepare accordingly.