RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: "Bonnie Granat" <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 21:08:20 -0400

This sounds very much like what technical writers do:
Sec. 515.5. (b) of the CA Code:

Sec. 515.5. (b) The exemption provided in subdivision (a) does not apply to
an employee if any of the following apply:

"5) The employee is a writer engaged in writing material,
including box labels, product descriptions, documentation,
promotional material, setup and installation instructions, and other
similar written information, either for print or for onscreen media
or who writes or provides content material intended to be read by
customers, subscribers, or visitors to computer-related media such as
the World Wide Web or CD-ROMs."

The above applies, so technical writers are apparently not permitted to be
exempt under CA law.

The parts of Sec. 515.5 (a) that seem germane are:

"(B) The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation,
testing, or modification of computer systems or programs, including
prototypes, based on and related to user or system design
specifications.
(C) The documentation, testing, creation, or modification of
computer programs related to the design of software or hardware for
computer operating systems."

It seems to me that the "documentation" referred to in Section 515.5 (a) are
those tasks that developers -- not writers -- normally do (that is,
documentation on a software development level), so again, it appears that
technical writers in CA should not be classified as exempt.

It looks like nobody looked at the law itself recently. I'm amazed that
nobody noticed this before now.

If I've made a major mistake in my interpretation, I'd appreciate hearing
about it.

Bonnie Granat
http://www.GranatEdit.com


> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> techwr-l-bounces+bgranat=granatedit -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+bgranat=granatedit -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l
> .com] On Behalf Of Ned Bedinger
> Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 7:00 PM
> To: Darcy Rumbold
> Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
>
> Darcy Rumbold wrote:
> > Found a new article online regarding this case:
> >
> > http://www.technet.org/news/article/?postId=9323
> > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
>
> Two innocuous points from the article seem to support a
> strategic objective that I've heard called "plausible
> deniability", though it may not be a legal term:
>
> 1. "It is standard practice to classify technical writers -
> who work with developers and engineers in creating manuals
> and other documentation - as exempt, say attorneys on both sides..."
>
> 2. "[Sun Microsystems] just got blindsided, and
> unfortunately are the first ones," says employment attorney
> David Faustman, managing partner of Fox Rothschild LLP in San
> Francisco. "Sun Microsystems is a quality company. This is
> not a scofflaw, fly-by-night operation."
>
>
> They seem to be preparing to plead ignorance of the law.
>
> And then Sun's lawyer flexes some muscle:
>
> "He says if the plaintiffs were to win this case, and any
> subsequent appeal, he would advise his high-tech clients to
> move their technical writers out of the state."
>
> At this point, I'm thinking the lawyer is playing much too
> aggressively for any deliberative legal process. They're
> already looking beyond due process.
>
> Personally, I think Sun's lawyer has implied that the real
> question is whether the law can afford to come down on Sun
> and the software companies. At stake will not be legal
> questions, but whether California can afford to lose the
> taxes and jobs of Sun's technical writers? Can Californnia
> afford to keep those jobs in-state by giving Sun subsidies or
> whatever to make up losses awarded in court?
>
> These are backroom issues for the vested interests, not the
> issues that will be heard in the trial. It sounds to me like
> the slightest twitch will bring big software down around our
> ears. Maybe we should just demolish it now, because it so
> unstable and unsafe, and because is poised to become a
> greater liability for the taxpayers who will be asked to
> subsidize it, in order to keep it, or bring it, into our
> state. I think the spreadsheet that can capture the issues
> suggested by the dufense lawyer is going to be very big indeed.
>
>
> Ned Bedinger
> doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
> Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help
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>
> True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
> Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for
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> http://www.helpandmanual.com
>
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.
http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Darcy Rumbold
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger

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