What you call an employee doesn’t determine whether she’s properly classified as exempt.
What matters are her duties. If they are routine and menial in nature, she’s not exempt, even if she holds a lofty title within the organization.
Recent case: When Elizabeth was hired by a nonprofit devoted to spaying and neutering feral cats, she received the title of director, along with a $60,000 per year salary.
Her duties included opening the clinic each morning, preparing cat traps, answering questions from the public and doing general clerical work such as filing. She referred to herself as a salaried manager.
When she was terminated for frequent tardiness, she sued, alleging she was owed overtime pay for the many hours over 40 per week she had routinely worked. She claimed she shouldn’t have been classified as an exempt administrative employee because her job duties were routine and clerical in nature.
The court agreed. It said the title of director didn’t matter, nor did Elizabeth’s own statements about being aemployee.
What mattered was what she did—none of which involved managing the enterprise in any significant way. (Cava v. Fix Nation, No. B260516, Court of Appeal of California, 2015)