Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 14:36:59 -0700

Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
> The OT pay itself does not. The consequences that
> will are that most companies will tell writers to go home
> at quitting time with the admins and clerical staff rather
> than pay it

Aye, it isn't about the work so much as the real cost of getting it done.


, and engineers seeing writers do this while
> they are salaried employees with no OT will further
> reinforce the existing tendency to view writers as
> nonprofessionals.

Dani made an interesting point on the blog--nothing precludes a
techwriter from donating free work, staying late to work with an
engineer who is also working late.

>
> The real issue is a lack of parity between employees
> whose work is of equivalent complexity and requires
> equivalent education, experience and skills.

I think there is also an issue that exists between the buttons of
qualifications and parity. The writers who work effectively without
being peers of the software engineers--they're not making engineer's
wages and are not 'taken care of' the way a professional employee is.
The company enjoys the benefits of having those writers do their portion
of the work at a rate lower than an engineer charges, even with
occasional OT.

Can a lesser-qualified tech writer, paid less than $36/hr, actually do
the work, or will it take twice as long and be less accurate? That is a
question the hiring manager has to resolve.

The hiring manager who makes those decisions with the law in mind has to
plan for overtime pay if workload and writer's productivity suggest it.
This may not be a blame point in the lawsuit, but is generally true in
any case.

Being able to predict a writer's productivity and overtime requirements
may not be a science, but where overtime liabilities are concerned, the
manager needs to factor them in. I don't think it works to say "I won't
be authorizing any OT", because that is the twin gesture to "I won't be
working any OT", and an impasse ensues. That doesn't get the work done.

If that putative hiring manager can hire only people who profess abiding
loyalty and waive their right to OT pay, then I guess (but don't know)
that's within the law. But without that, I think the law does prevail.
We're a nation of laws. The people, and businesses are just passing through.

BTW, I think the blog brought out the fact that this is about state
laws, not national laws. That's a useful point.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com


> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ned Bedinger" <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
>> The question is, how does OT pay amount to a problem
>> in technical communications between engineers and us?
>> Hhow does it follow that software engineers would
>> treat us differently if we bill OT hours?
>>
>> Let's face it, tech writers have been in this
>> position for a decade or more, we're not well
>> informed about the laws, we haven't been insisting
>> on OT pay and employers have been insisting they
>> won't pay it.
>
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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: Jodie Gilmore
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Janice Gelb
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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