Appeals Court Says Law Clerks Not Eligible For Overtime

Aspiring lawyers are not eligible for overtime benefits while clerking at a law firm, San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeals ruled on August 17, 2011. According to the Wall Street Journal, the court sided with Brayton Purcell LLP in a lawsuit filed by a Northern California lawyer for not receiving overtime pay while working at the personal injury practice as a clerk until 2009.

The appeals court determined that the plaintiff met the conditions for exemption from wage regulations that mandate overtime compensation under Section 515a of California’s Labor Code. According to the Journal, the decision “also drew on a 1989 order by the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission, which expanded exemption from overtime benefits to all those in ‘learned professions,’ and not just licensed members of certain fields like law, medicine and engineering.”

The Journal added that the law allows exceptions for an executive, administrative or professional employee who “customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment.” However, the court’s decision stated, “The fact that an employee’s decision may be subject to review and that upon occasion the decisions are revised or reversed after review does not mean that the employee is not exercising discretion and independent judgment.”

While this plaintiff still has the option of appealing to the state Supreme Court, both federal and state employment law require that, in most instances, your employer pay you overtime wages. Contact our Los Angeles employment lawyers if you believe you might have an overtime claim.

Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorneys

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