Re: Technical Writers and Overtime

Subject: Re: Technical Writers and Overtime
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2012 15:47:12 -0700

This is certainly a popular thread. There are few things to keep in mind about work weeks and overtime.

Labor unions in the late 19th century lobbied for shorter working hours. In 1895, a baker permitted an employee to work longer hours and was fined by the state. He was fined again in 1901. He sued the state and after a number of appeals the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court decided that the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution protected the right to contract for employment. Lochner v. New York.

* http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=10760991087928264675&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr
* http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/capitalism/landmark_lochner.html
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lochner_v._New_York


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (29 U.S. Code Chapter 8) was enacted in 1938. The Act provides for maximum working hours, minimum wage, breaks, and other labor protective provisions.

* http://finduslaw.com/fair-labor-standards-act-flsa-29-us-code-chapter-8
* http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-flsa.htm
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-hour_day


FLSA does not prevent employees for contracting for employment that falls outside of its provisions, provided certain rules are met. Independent contractors who are legally independent of their employers can contract for long hours and low pay, while employees are limited to what provisions of the FLSA they may contract away, like whether they can be exempt from the overtime requirement of the FLSA.

* http://www.flsa.com/coverage.html
* http://www.stevenrubinlaw.com/PracticeAreas/Exempt-Non-Exempt-Issues-and-the-Fair-Labor-Standards-Act.asp
* http://www.overtime-flsa.com/california-exempt-employees


State laws for exemptions sometimes require a written agreement signed by the employee that the employee agrees to be exempt from FLSA or by election of the affected employees under a bargaining agreement.

California - http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=lab&group=00001-01000&file=500-558.

Some states prohibit waiving FLSA rights.

New York - http://labor.ny.gov/legal/counsel/pdf/overtime-frequently-asked-questions.pdf.

Missouri prohibits employees from waiving their rights to compensation, but also permits employers to fire employees who do not work longer hours.

* http://labor.mo.gov/DLS/General/overtime.asp
* http://labor.mo.gov/DLS/General/faqs2.asp
* http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/C200-299/2900000505.HTM


Exempt employees under the FLSA and the 40-hour work week are hot topics.

* http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/glp/27680/overtime-labor-law.html
* http://www.salon.com/2012/03/14/bring_back_the_40_hour_work_week/
* http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/career/bring-back-the-40-hour-work-week/4463
* http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/stop-working-more-than-40-hours-a-week.html
* http://theweek.com/article/index/227385/time-to-cap-the-workweek-at-40-hours


Personally, I would not put an employer above my personal life and health. If an employer cannot figure out how to manage its business well enough for employees to have sane work schedules, then that is not a problem for me to carry by working longer hours. I do not mind working longer hours when I am enthusiastic about a project, though.











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