Are recruiters exempt from overtime?

Many personnel placement companies consider their recruiters as exempt from overtime as “administrative employees.”  Others consider them exempt as sales representatives if more than half their compensation qualifies as commissions.  For example, Robert Half International, which claims to be the largest personnel placement firm in the world, was found by a trial court and an appeal court to have violated California’s overtime laws by not paying six of its recruiters for overtime worked.  In Pellegrino v. Robert Half International, Inc., Robert Half claimed its recruiters or “account executives” were exempt as “administrators.”  However, the six former employees showed how they were trained as salespeople, entered qualified candidates in a data base, considered temporary employees as “inventory,” work the phones like a boiler room call center making hundreds of calls per week, and operated within the well defined policies of the company with close supervision.  The court agreed they were not exempt and ordered Robert Half to pay them $615,000 plus interest and attorneys’ fees.

Whether you are exempt depends on the details of what you do and how you get paid.  Many employers get this wrong, especially in California.  Employers may have expensive lawyers, but they frequently do not see things objectively.  It is in their own interests to have employees work long hours and skip breaks, and not pay extra for it.  So when they look at the law and the facts, they often wrongly conclude their recruiters are exempt.  We can help hold employers accountable and make them follow the law.  We can advise you whether you are more likely exempt or non-exempt from overtime laws.