Dejban Law




Cooks File FLSA Claim in California Claiming Non-Exempt Status

Jose Alvarez, a line cook for 9021Pho, a Los Angeles restaurant chain, filed a wage suit against his employer alleging violations of the Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Alvarez claims that 9021Pho misclassified him as an exempt employee and, therefore, paid him a fixed salary even though he worked more than eight hours a day or more than forty hours per week. Alvarez argues that he was not exempt and should have been paid overtime.

FLSA exempts certain classes of workers from its minimum wage and overtime requirements. These exemptions may include administrative, professional, and executive employees.  To be exempted as an administrative employee, a worker must be paid a salary of not less than $455 per week and must have primary duties revolving around office or non-manual work directly related to the employer’s business operations. With regard to professional employees, the same salary threshold must be met and the employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning acquired by a prolonged course of intellectual instruction. Alternatively, creative professionals may also qualify for the professional exemption if their work requires invention, imagination, or originality in a recognized artistic field. Finally, executive employees who meet the same salary threshold and whose primary duties involve management of an office or division with supervisory responsibilities over two or more full-time employees are also exempt.

According to DOL, chefs or cooks who are not in management may meet the requirements for the professional exemption if they have attained a four-year specialized academic degree in a culinary arts program. However, if they perform predominantly routine mental, manual, mechanical, or physical work, they are likely not exempt.

Dejban Law can help you pursue your wage claims if you believe you have been misclassified as exempt from FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections. Contact us now by email at or by phone us at (818) 325-3820 for a free and confidential initial consultation.