Legal Update Memo No. 06-2020 – Changes to FLSA Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees (CCD)

Download pdf: 06-2020(CC) – Changes to FLSA Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees (KAS)

Effective January 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor began enforcing an increase to the total annual compensation necessary for an employee to be an exempt employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). We are issuing this guidance to address concerns raised regarding the application of this change to community college districts.

The FLSA generally applies a three-part test to determine whether the employee is exempt or not:

  • The employee must be paid on a salary basis; that is, their weekly pay may not be subject to deduction based on the quality of work or the amount of time worked; and
  • The employee must meet the minimum salary level of $684 per week (equivalent to an annual salary of $35,568); and
  • The employees’ primary duty must involve the kind of work associated with exempt executive,[1] administrative,[2] or professional employees.[3]

An employee may also qualify as exempt if they make at least $107,432 (at least $684 of which must be paid weekly on a salary or fee basis), and customarily and regularly perform at least one of the duties of an exempt executive, administrative, or professional employee.[4]

Please take note of the above minimum salary amounts, as these numbers are an increase from previous requirements, and are effective January 1, 2020.

Within the CCD setting, the following list of representative positions would likely be exempt, so long as they meet the minimum salary level, based on typical duties assigned to these positions:

  • Superintendent/President
  • Assistant/Associate Superintendents
  • Chief Business Officer, or related titles
  • Directors of Departments
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Assistant/Vice Presidents
  • General Counsel
  • Dean of Students
  • Medical Director
  • Director of Information Technology
  • Office Managers
  • Director of Food Services
  • Director of Facilities
  • Executive Assistant to the Superintendent/President
  • Department Chairpersons
  • Counselors

This is not an exhaustive list, and colleges may have additional positions which may be properly categorized as exempt or may have some of the above positions not qualify as exempt, depending on salary level and job duties.

There have been no changes to the application of FLSA to teachers. “Teachers,” as defined in the FLSA, are exempt employees whether or not they meet minimum compensation levels prescribed in the FLSA, so long as they either: (a) possess a teaching certificate, or (b) are engaged with a primary duty of teaching, tutoring, instructing or lecturing at an educational establishment.[5] Most lecturers, faculty members, and instructors employed by community college districts, whether temporary, part-time probationary or tenured/permanent employees, fall into this exemption.

Going forward, we recommend that all colleges engage in a review to ensure that all positions categorized as exempt meet the new minimum salary level, except for those that fall into the definition of “teacher.” In addition, if your college has questions regarding whether a specific position may be categorized as exempt, please contact any attorney in our office for assistance.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2020 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] 29 C.F.R. § 541.100.

[2] 29 C.F.R. § 541.200.

[3] 29 C.F.R. § 541.300.

[4] 29 C.F.R. § 541.601.

[5] 29 C.F.R. §§ 541.204, 541.303.