Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 18 May 2008 10:26:07 -0700

The computer software writer provision appears to be
a major factor (if not *the* major factor), since it is being
specifically cited as what excludes "technical writers"
(actually, only *computer software* technical writers, but
it seems that this list is not the only place where many
people think there are no technical writers in any other
field or industry).

Of the several ways I see this can ending, one is
potentially good for technical writers (actually, for all
professional employees), one potentially bad and the
others neutral:

Good
The court rules that Sun was correct in classifying
Hoenemier as an exempt professional based on the
advanced, highly compensated and independent
judgment nature of her work, but then violated the
workplace rules for exempt employees by requiring
her to work mandatory overtime hours. Hoenemier
gets her OT pay + damages and employers get a
lesson that if they classify employees as "highly
compensated professional exempts" they must
actually compensate them highly *and* treat them as
professional exempts, letting them exercise their
own judgment as to what hours they need to work
and what approaches they will use to meet their
job responsibilities, deadlines, etc., i.e., evaluating
them on their actual performance and not on hours
spent in the office, and not micromanaging their
every move.

Bad
The court rules that Sun was wrong to classify
Hoenemier as an exempt professional because
as a technical writer in the computer software
field the nature of her work is not advanced, not
highly compensated and involves no independent
judgment. Hoenemier gets her OT + damages,
but software technical writers are codified in law as
low wage nonexempts and over time are hired, paid,
managed and regarded as such by their employers,
professional coworkers and even non-software
technical writers, who from then on avoid jobs in
software as if they had a smell.

Neutral (1)
The court rules that Sun was correct in classifying
Hoenemier as an exempt professional based on
the advanced, highly compensated and independent
judgment nature of her work, and that Hoenemier
was an underperforming employee who had to be
closely supervised and put in more hours to get her
work done satisfactorily because she was unable to
work to those standards. Hoenemier loses, there
are no workplace impacts. This has the potential to
go from neutral to bad if it results in technical writers
being regarded by other tech professionals as
whiners.

Neutral (2)
The parties settle out of court. Hoenemier gets an
undisclosed payment to go away, nobody is found
in the wrong, there are no workplace impacts.

Gene Kim-Eng



----- Original Message -----
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
> Thanks for the information. I'm sure the lawyers and the court will
> consider this NY decision, but I wonder how the CA Labor Code with its
> hourly computer software employee exemption and technical writer exception
> will factor in this case.

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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Lauren

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