RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 08:57:20 -0400

On Behalf Of Gene Kim-Eng uttered:
>
> Lawyer's arguments notwithstanding, it seems to me (and
> I'm not a lawyer) that the key phrase in the computer software
> employee section is "who is paid on an hourly basis."
>
> >From Sun's response as reported in the article, they appear
> to be maintaining that Hoenemier was salaried (paid per pay
> period or year), and because she was not paid by the hour
> the entire section on hourly employees in the computer
> software field does not apply to her but that the professional
> exemption does because she was "primarily engaged in work
> requiring knowledge of an advance type" and was "intellectual
> and varied in character," and that she "customarily exercised
> discretion and independent judgment" in her work (actually,
> Sun appears to be saying that she was *supposed* to do
> that, but had to have extra supervision because she didn't
> do it well).
>
> Hoenemier will have to convince the judges that she was
> paid by the hour and not by pay period or annum, that her
> work was predominantly repetitious, was not intellectual
> and did not require advanced knowledge, or that she never
> exercised discretion and independent judgement in her
> work. Just what we would all like people to think technical
> writing is like, yes?

This has all been interesting, if a little academic for me (I live and
work in Canada) but the question that keeps percolating in the back of
my mind is:

If we asked everybody on this list whether or not they are _required_ to
account for their time, on an hourly or sub-hourly basis, which group
would likely predominate? I doubt that more than a fistful of writers
actually punch a clock, but I'd be surprised if most of us didn't have
to keep a log of some sort.
For our company, it's done in software called Journyx, which allows
reporting down to the quarter hour.

Some of the software developers' weekly timesheets look like one massive
block assigned to a single project. Others' are more like mine that have
six or eight projects tracked, with time-blocks of anywhere from 30
minutes to 8 hours indicated. Since I tend to actually fill these out on
Friday afternoon (or even Monday morning if Friday was a rush-to-release
day), they are necessarily guesstimates, but that's a digression. The
point is that the time is tracked. Somebody takes it seriously. Somebody
compiles al those timesheets and runs various sorts of manipulations on
the numbers.
When we are running projects that qualify for a government
science-and-innovation rebate, it's obvious why that time-tracking is
needed. When we are running projects for specific big customers, it's
obvious why we need to track which-of / how-many-of our hours were
expended on that customer.

When it's neither of those, it can only be for the benefit of the
company.
I'm sure other people have the same sort of arrangement. I'd be very
surprised if a company the size of Sun didn't have some kind of standard
effort-tracking mechanism, tied to hours (since that's about the only
parameter that can be tracked that way).

How does that affect the discussion?

Kevin
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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Lauren
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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