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One glaring mistake I see in the article is the assertion that the class
action against Sun is the first lawsuit of this kind. Not so. Eastman
Kodak settled a similar suit in 2007, and reclassified its technical
writers, graphics artists, and many other professionals to non-exempt
"technician" pay grades. Those subject to reclassification were assured no
loss in pay would occur during the reclassification. However, the grades
were generally limited to T8, for which the ceiling pay range was below
the former salaries of some who were level D43 or higher. A level T9 does
exist, but its access is extremely limited.
The failure of logic from the legal advice to "move their technical
writers out of the state" is that larger corporations typically have
employees nationwide, sometimes worldwide, and that federal labor law
would demand that all US-based employees be treated similarly. This
analysis is at least one reason why Kodak settled the suit and then
reclassified all technical writers, worldwide.
In reply to:
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 15:59:32 -0700
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
To: Darcy Rumbold <darcyrumbold -at- gmail -dot- com>
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Message-ID: <483C9254 -dot- 2030607 -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed
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. ...
"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."
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? ...
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com
Thomas G (Tom) Kohn | Technical Editor | GCG WW Versamark Engineering
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