Oregon Professional Exemption

by Joel Christiansen

Oregon exempts certain professional employees from overtime, minimum wage, and other laws that would otherwise govern the employment relationship.

Employers expose themselves to liability any time they cannot prove that an employee meets the legal requirements for the professional exemption.

ORS 653.020(3) creates an exemption for workers who are engaged in qualifying professional work:

  • An individual engaged in […] professional work who:
    • Performs predominantly intellectual, managerial or creative tasks;
    • Exercises discretion and independent judgment; and
    • Earns a salary and is paid on a salary basis.

OAR 839-020-0005 specifies that “professional employee” means an employee:

  • Whose primary duty consists of the performance of:
    • Work requiring knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction and study, as distinguished from a general academic education and from an apprenticeship, and from training in the performance of routine mental, manual, or physical processes; or
    • Work that is original and creative in character in a recognized field of artistic endeavor (as opposed to work which can be produced by a person endowed with general manual or intellectual ability and training), and the result of which depends primarily on the invention, imagination, or talent of the employee; or
    • Teaching, tutoring, instructing, or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge and who is employed and engaged in this activity as a teacher in the school system or educational establishment or institution by which the employee is employed; and
  • Whose work requires the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment in its performance; and
  • Whose work is predominantly intellectual and varied in character (as opposed to routine mental, manual, mechanical, or physical work) and is of such character that the output produced or the result accomplished cannot be standardized in relation to a given period of time; and
  • Who earns a salary and is paid on a salary basis pursuant to ORS 653.025 exclusive of board, lodging, or other facilities.

Please be advised that these statutes and rules are informational only. Since laws are always changing and will apply differently in different situations, you should contact an attorney for help.