Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: tgkohn -at- aol -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sat, 17 May 2008 17:14:02 -0400

A late addition to the many posts, I know, but it comes from first-hand experience.

I am a technical editor (AKA writer) whose classification was changed from D43 (exempt) in August 2007 to a then-unclassified non-exempt position. This reclassification occurred as the result of a class-action lawsuit that was decided "in favor" of the technical writers, heard in the State of New York. The general circumstances were the same as the case that recently received so much interest here, except that a takeover by another company did not initiate the lawsuit.

In our facility, eight technical writers (direct employees) of two groups were told that they would be assigned classifications after the beginning of 2008, with no effective changes in equivalent pay. In March, they were assigned classifications, generally in the T5 through T8 range. The changes so far are a mixed bag:

 One group of writers was told that they could not record any overtime, without exception. I presume that they do indeed work a small amount of overtime, unpaid. This group is understaffed for all the required production, and they have been interviewing to add one more writer to the group. (This would still leave them understaffed, in my opinion. Their management seems less interested in staffing to a level to meet all requirements.)

 One group of writers was told that overtime can be worked and billed as needed, because the staffing is lower than a number documented as required for the required output. They have hired three contractors as additions to the team, and are interviewing for a fourth, relatively junior contract writer.* The lead writer typically works 12 to 17 hours overtime each week, and some writers work up to 8 hours overtime. Some writers maintain a scrupulous 40-hour week. Their management can refer to the amount of overtime to substantiate personnel requisitions, at least for adding contractors on 8-month and 12-month renewable contracts.

 At least one writer's exempt salary was high compared to the hourly pay range for T8. The writer had 24 years experience at the time of reclassification. That hourly pay range may be leveled to the T8 range over a period of years. At this point, negotiations are underway to arrange a reconsideration of the reclassification, to the T9 range, which is an exceptional position. (It's uncertain whether the T9 classification will go through.)

 Technical writers were not the only type of job that was reclassified. Other jobs included Engineering Technicians, Field Service Engineers, and various other support staff to engineering. The reclassifications were primarily to the range of T5 to T9.

Thomas G (Tom) Kohn | Technical Editor | GCG WW Versamark Engineering Services |

* I can provide contact information for sending a resume in off-line e-mail exchange.


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