When are Paralegals Illegal?

When they are not properly paid. A number of law firms and corporate employers consider paralegals to be exempt from overtime. At the federal level, the Department of Labor (DOL) has stated that most paralegals lack sufficient specialized education to qualify for the learned professional exemption and are therefore not exempt from overtime. In this regard, the State of California generally applies more strict standards and will likely follow the DOL.Nor is it likely that paralegals could qualify as exempt from overtime under the other most common exemptions. Specifically, paralegals typically do not qualify for the executive exemption (which requires that the job include the management of the business or a recognized department of the business as well as the regular management of two or more employees, among other things) or the administrative exemption (which provides that the primary duty of the job is non-manual work related to business operations or management policies). Further, these exemptions generally require that the employee regularly (meaning more than 50% of the time) exercise discretion and independent judgment. By contrast, paralegals often work under the direct supervision of an attorney and/or under strict guidelines. Accordingly, most paralegals will not qualify as exempt from overtime.

This blog is presented under protest by the law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP.  It is essentially the random thoughts and opinions of someone who lives in the trenches of the war that often is employment law–he/she may well be a little shell-shocked.  So if you are thinking “woohoo, I just landed some free legal advice that will fix all my problems!”, think again.  This is commentary, people, a sketchy overview of some current legal issue with a dose of humor, but commentary nonetheless; as if Dennis Miller were a lawyer…and still mildly amusing.  No legal advice here; you would have to pay real US currency for that (unless you are my mom, and even then there are limits).  But feel free to contact us with your questions and comments—who knows, we might even answer you.  And if you want to spread this stuff around, feel free to do so, but please keep it in its present form (‘cause you can’t mess with this kind of poetry).  Big news: Copyright 2014.  All rights reserved; yep, all of them.

If you have any questions about this article, contact the writer directly, assuming he or she was brave enough to attach their name to it.  If you have any questions regarding this blog or your life in general, contact Kelly O. Scott, Esq., commander in chief of this blog and Head Honcho (official legal title) of ECJ’s Employment Law Department, at (310) 281-6348.

Tags: DOL


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