RE: Exempt status for Tech Writers

Subject: RE: Exempt status for Tech Writers
From: "Stephen Arrants" <steve -at- mbfbioscience -dot- com>
To: "TechWriter" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 09:46:09 -0500

A few things to remember. It may not be up to you or the employer to
classify you as exempt or non-exempt. Classification can be due to labor
laws in your jurisdiction. When I lived in California, I was involved in
a situation that caused my employer to cough up more than $10000 of
overtime pay to me, through no action of my own. It was due to an income
tax audit.

I was hired as a "permatemp" for a Florida company with an office in
Santa Rosa California. They ran my payroll through their own temp
company. No overtime pay at all. So I file my 2002 taxes with the state
of California and get audited. I'd kept copies of my timesheets along
with all my other employment paperwork, and when the auditor saw them,
she sent them over to the Wage/Hours division and told me that there
were employment taxes due on my overtime hours. Two things raised
flags--reporting hours on the agency time sheet that asked for regular
and overtime hours, and that my job title was "Technical Writer." The
State of California wanted its extra employment taxes. The state
essentially held me harmless, and went after the employer. The employer
ended up paying the taxes and writing me a fat check for the difference.
By that time, we'd moved to Vermont. I didn't believe that the State of
California was doing it for any noble purpose of helping an exploited
worker--they wanted their tax money. That I got the overtime pay was
incidental, I believe.


So...if you don't want to be classified hourly, check your state's wage
and hour division to see if there are any regulations about this. **IF**
you can prove that you don't meet the classification, you can probably
ask for an exemption.


The only other thing I'll say is that overtime laws are there for a
reason. Maybe the reason isn't the same as it was when my grandfather
was having his head stove in, striking for a 40-hour week and overtime.
Saying that your output is from your brain and not your brawn and should
be judged by the quality and quantity you produce, and not the number of
widgets belittles people who work very hard under sometimes backbreaking
conditions. You're comparing apples to oranges, when you should be
comparing pippins to granny smiths.

No one is saying that occasional overtime--staying late to make sure the
changes get in, working a weekend because the print deadline in Monday
9am--must be compensated down to the last penny and the last minute. But
employers who abuse this, who expect 60-hour weeks, then 70-hour weeks,
and more need to be brought to heel. Suffer as loudly as *you* want,
working 20 or 30 hours more with no extra pay. Just remember that even
if you aren't "hourly", every hour over 40 brings down the hourly rate
that calculates your pay.

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Exempt status for Tech Writers: From: beelia
Re: Exempt status for Tech Writers: From: Ed

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