Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: tom -dot- kohn -at- kodak -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 10:21:40 -0400

The article cited (http://www.technet.org/news/article/?postId=9323) is
copyright California Executive  2008 Providence Publications, LLC.
Quoting from the site's "Who we are" information:

"TechNet is the preeminent bipartisan political network of Chief Executive
Officers and Senior Executives of leading U.S. technology companies. Our
members are the nationâs drivers of innovation in the fields of
information technology, e-commerce, biotechnology, venture capital and
investment banking â representing over one million employees.
"TechNet was founded in 1997 by high-techâs leading CEOs to create a
network of the nationâs strongest voices in the industry to unite with
both federal and state leaders in helping to shape the public policies
that impact the technology industries. TechNet continues to actively
promote policies that strengthen the nationalâs innovation-driven global
competitiveness as well as create private sector initiatives that will
ensure U.S. competitiveness and economic leadership."
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.
Tom Kohn

In reply to:
Message: 102
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

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. ...


...
"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? ...


Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

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

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