Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: Laura Lemay <lemay -at- lauralemay -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 May 2008 09:46:49 -0700

There is at least once large company in silicon valley that I know of
that converted its tech writer staff to non-exempt, and all these things
are precisely what happened. That company now has a terrible reputation
for both pay and treatment of tech writers.

This lawsuit was bound to happen eventually given that most tech
companies were either unaware of or completely ignoring California's
unusual computer professional labor laws. If there's a judgement
against Sun it will have very far-reaching affects for tech writers in
California and they probably won't be good.

Laura


Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
> I've seen this happen before (history at the end of this
> post). I won't take a position on whether it's bad or good.
> You decide for yourselves...
>
> One of the things you should expect to see if this happens
> is an almost immediate 15-20% cut in compensation offers
> for new tech writers, to compensate for the end of the one-
> hour-a-day "casual overtime" that is the de facto standard
> rolled into the salaries for most exempt professional tech
> employees; existing writers will see annual increases
> throttled until the pay grades are "leveled." You can also
> expect to be required to log all your hours and be required
> to use vacation or PTO whenever you need to be out of the
> office for some fraction of a day.
>
> Alternatively, tech writer rates may not change, but tech
> writers will be told that no overtime is authorized and they
> should leave at the end of a standard workday. Three
> guesses as to whether the deadlines and objectives on
> which performance evaluations are based will be adjusted
> accordingly.
>
> On a less tangible basis, expect to see an increase in
> the perception of tech writers as "glorified secretaries"
> by engineers and other professionals who continue to
> work on an exempt/salaried basis and see the writers
> going home every day at five along with the admins.
>
> I fought this battle at a previous company regarding the
> status of document production staff. HR reclassified
> them as "non-exempt" because they didn't "apply
> creativity" in their work. I had to start making them fill
> out time cards and submit requests for PTO anytime
> they had to be out of the office for an hour, raises
> dried up because the pay grades had to be "leveled"
> with other non-exempts, and eventually the position was
> reclassified as "clerical" and Purchasing started sending
> me brochures from Kelly and Apple One because we
> would no longer be able to use the professional recruiters
> to fill the positions. Our "solution" was to offer the
> production staff the option of being trained by the
> senior writers in a few new functions and being
> "promoted" to Tech Writer I. They all took it, and all
> the "Production Specialist" positions were eventually
> eliminated.
>
> Gene Kim-Eng
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Rob Hudson" <caveatrob -at- gmail -dot- com>
>> Good luck overturning exempt laws. If employers had to pay hourly for
>> work, they might understand what it TRULY costs to get a job done, and
>> either start planning or go out of business.
>
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Eric J. Ray
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Rob Hudson
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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