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The Almighty Buck Businesses

What Tech Workers Need To Know About Overtime 418

onehitwonder writes "The class-action lawsuit that current and former Apple employees have filed against the company raises questions about what kinds of workers are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — and thus, what kinds of workers are eligible for overtime pay. Some tech workers are covered under it; some are not though perhaps they should be. The lawyer who got IBM workers a $65M settlement from Big Blue for violating labor laws explains why employers often deny tech workers overtime pay and the circumstances under which certain tech workers may or may not be covered under the FLSA. From the article: 'It's not uncommon for employers to err on the side of classifying employees as exempt [from the FLSA], says Sagafi... In fact, the dirty little secret among employers and HR departments is that classifying employees as exempt — even if it means breaking the law — is in their best interest[,] provided... that they don't get caught... "In a sense, they may see it as economically viable for them to skirt the law and wait to see if they get sued because the exposure is not that huge [if they don't get sued]," Sagafi says. "If they can settle [a complaint] for less than 100 percent of what they owe people [for overtime], they've gotten away with a good deal."'"
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What Tech Workers Need To Know About Overtime

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  • One solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:17AM (#24578921) Journal

    Some government entities I know have simplified the exempt issue: only managers can be classified as exempt. All non-managers go by the clock. This removes most ambiguities and abuses. General labor law may also want to consider this (except in rare and well-documented circumstances).

    • Re:One solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:38AM (#24579033)

      Gotta love people who think that what they'd like is what everyone else wants. I prefer being salaried; I hate having to deal with time-cards and I hate being told I can't do something (ie: work 80 hours this week then work 20 the next). I like not having to deal with an ever changing income flow depending on how much overtime I took that particular month.

      If I thought I was being paid too little then I'd talk to my manager and/or find another job. If I thought I was working too long I'd talk to my manager and/or find another job. And before you ask I can do this because I'm not an idiot and I put saving for a rainy day above everything else.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jcr ( 53032 )

        Damn right. This guy didn't like the job, fine. He can go and work somewhere else (which he did.) When I had more than I could do at Apple, I quit and joined a start-up.

        Seems to me that litigation is pretty lousy substitute for negotiating skills.


        • Re:One solution (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:07AM (#24579187)

          Seems to me that litigation is pretty lousy substitute for negotiating skills.

          But isn't it so that the "negotiations" have already been done, and the result was made into laws and indsutry-wide agreements. Now Apple is breaking the agreements (or at least somebody believes they are, if they are going to court over it), and therefore litigation is the way to go.

          If one side wants to change the laws and wants the old agreements discarded, then it's their responsibility to initiate the negotiation/lobbying/bribing process to make it happen. Until then, stick to the law or face litigation.

          • by Anonymous Coward
            But isn't it so that the "negotiations" have already been done, and the result was made into laws and indsutry-wide agreements.

            Just because something was made into law in a democracy does not mean that both sides agreed to it. It may just mean that one side out numbered the other and committed tyranny of the majority.

            • by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:14AM (#24580519)

              The way I see it, if you agree to use the infrastructure created and/or supported by the society, and if you agree to take advantage of skilled people educated in society-supported schools, then you implicitly agree to follow the laws of that same society. You can't pick one and reject the other.

              I don't see a company being forced to accept the laws, any more than I see a hungry unemployed being forced to take a crappy job. Both can choose to reject the agreement (not hire people, not eat), or to ignore the law (but possibly face the consequences if they get caught). Both can also move out of the country if they think it's a better solution for them. Etc.

        • Re:One solution (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:53AM (#24579375) Homepage Journal

          Seems to me that litigation is pretty lousy substitute for negotiating skills.

          So you're saying that Apple should be allowed to break the law? These laws are supposed to apply to everyone, and if you're claiming that it should be ethically okay for Apple to break the law as long as it doesn't get caught, you're giving Apple an unfair advantage over its competitors who go to greater lengths to pay their employees properly because they know they're legally required to.

          If Apple doesn't like the law they should convince people and lawmakers that it should be changed. Until then they should follow it as far as I'm concerned. I'm often skeptical about the excessive use of litigation to solve problems, but in this case I think it makes sense, particularly if Apple is clearly and intentionally breaking the law at the expense of people who aren't.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Let's play Devil's Advocate, not for the intent of trolling nor for flaming...

            How about if this was a law in China but not here?

            • Re:One solution (Score:4, Interesting)

              by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:36AM (#24580639)

              Let's play Devil's Advocate, not for the intent of trolling nor for flaming...

              How about if this was a law in China but not here?

              Well, I for one think it would be great if China had a law that required workers to be paid for the work they do. But what's so Devil's Advocate about that?

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:57AM (#24580761) Homepage

          I'm with you, they should have found a job somewhere else than the silly idea of expecting the company to obey the LAW.

      • Re:One solution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:42AM (#24579333) Homepage Journal

        I wish I didn't have to deal with time sheets. Even when we were exempt, we had to fill them out for billing purposes (large contractor at a local government). I often long for the days when I don't have to fill one out, not so much because of the tracking but because our time sheet application works about as well as one would expect from Microsoft web application development principles of 1998.

        In retrospect, our reaction when HR notified us that we were (mostly) being changed from exempt to hourly was not what one might expect. There was much indignation because for many, reaching exempt status in IT is a sort of badge of honor, a sign that one has made it out of the trenches. We felt like we were being downgraded.

        Up until that point, we'd worked whatever was required to get the job done, and if that meant an hour or two (or sometimes three or more) over, then we usually did it. It generally wasn't from any pressure from management. It was just easier for us to get it done that night than to have to pick up again in the morning, when it would compete with whatever else was going on.

        When we were changed to hourly, though, we got ominous warnings about overtime and how it was going to be strictly limited and subject to pre-approval and unauthorized overtime was grounds for disciplinary measures up to and including termination. Suddenly, the ability to go home with a clean checklist was in serious danger. However, reality hit management soon after, OT was regularly approved (and almost never actually required pre-approval), and our paychecks...

        Well, let's just say that no matter how disappointed we were, the difference between a 60-hour paycheck and a 40-hour paycheck, especially under California overtime laws, was more than enough to chase away our depression. :)

      • by gilgongo ( 57446 )

        I hate having to deal with time-cards and I hate being told I can't do something

        Speaking as somebody who has never been in a job that offered overtime - I agree. Seems a major PITA to claim for extra hours worked, then try to work out how much your salary is lower because of it (I assume employers factor in overtime claims when calculating the base salary). Also seems to make it pretty hard to compare jobs at different employers.

        • Re:One solution (Score:4, Interesting)

          by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @08:17AM (#24580925) Journal

          I've always held an exempt job and it's always been for internal IT. And believe it or not, I've still had to submit my time. They call it "project tracking". I call it "lying", but I've never hidden that fact. If they don't give me a bucket to log certain tasks, they'll get lumped in to whatever task I feel like padding that week. I don't really see how they can track projects at the level they want and get any sort of meaningful results.

          But the point is, being exempt and not having billable hours, I still have to submit a timesheet. It just doesn't affect my paycheck.


      • I hate being told I can't do something (ie: work 80 hours this week then work 20 the next).

        Lucky you. Even though they are salaried, no one I know is allowed to work less than 40 hours per week with out it being charged against their vacation balance (or deducted from their paycheck) - no matter how many hours they worked the week before.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Great, so 'I'm all-right Jack' then. Love the solidarity and understanding you have with your fellow workers. Unfortunately not everyone is so good at being able to raise issues with their employer, not everyone is in a work place that encourages such issues as yours obviously does.

        Surely legislation that protects workers from the worst excesses of the corporate world is good. If you're able to negotiate better conditions for yourself then brilliant, but ultimately companies need to realise they have a obli

      • Re:One solution (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:37AM (#24580073) Journal
        I hate having to deal with time-cards

        "Professional" hourly workers (and I mean outside the IT world) generally don't bother with time cards, except as a once-a-week formality ("You worked 40hrs?" "Yup" "okay").

        I hate being told I can't do something (ie: work 80 hours this week then work 20 the next).

        Well, can't help you with that one, except to say that it depends on the averaging period for what your employer calls "full time". If they strictly insist you must work 40/wk for full-time status, then yeah, you just need to use some of your PTO. More often, they average that biweekly or monthly, so yes, you can still do exactly what you describe.

        I like not having to deal with an ever changing income flow depending on how much overtime I took that particular month.

        Um, hello? It only varies upward as a result of OT. I'd take that in a heartbeat over having my effective hourly rate start slowly dropping after I hit 40 hours for the week, since my pay won't change no matter how long I stay... But wow does my motivation level start dropping at that point.

        If I thought I was being paid too little then I'd talk to my manager and/or find another job.

        Managers and HR departments have learned the fine art of pushing "just barely okay". I agree with you, if I worked 60hrs a week every week, I'd find a new job. But, liking my job otherwise, will I quit because I find myself pushing 45 hours more often than not? Unlikely.

        And before you ask I can do this because I'm not an idiot and I put saving for a rainy day above everything else.

        Totally different topic. This doesn't involve hourly wage-slaves working for $8/hr at Wallyworld. Whether salaried or hourly, IT professionals generally make decent money. Most of us have the option of finding a new job relatively quickly; The uncertaintly, hassle, vesting schedules, and the fact that most companies pull the same BS, make looking for a new job not all that appealing except in the worst cases.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          "Um, hello? It only varies upward as a result of OT."

          It can only vary upwards as a result of *adding* OT. What about taking it away--plenty of hourly places use a few consistent hours of OT to balance out the fact that the base pay rate is marginal. Suppose that company has just realized that they can't find their asses with both hands and a map, and are hemorrhaging money.

          First thing to go is overtime, as much of it as possible, which means your paycheck is probably going down and staying there. I don't

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by supertjx ( 910400 )
      The whole point of the law is to protect peons from being exploited by their bosses. Peons are usually lowly paid. So the criteria to be classified as exempt should be based on their salary. I.e. those paid below a certain amount go by the clock. You could be designated a "manager", but be doing lowly paid peon work, in which case you should be protected by the law.
      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        The whole point of the law is to protect peons from being exploited by their bosses.

        The job this guy was doing at Apple was probably paying him between 70 and 80 grand. IT at Apple isn't a coal mine or a garment factory.


    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by loraksus ( 171574 )

      Problem is... shit like []
      11 layers of management happens

      I've heard the statistic that for every 2 employees that actually worked, 3 managers oversaw them.
      Bell (Canada) is a great example of a company that embodies fail in basically everything that they do.

    • Re:One solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sparohok ( 318277 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:41AM (#24579893)

      All non-managers go by the clock.

      Screw that. I don't want overtime. I'm a contract software engineer and I always request to be exempt from overtime. Overtime is a curse.

      I want to be able to work when I want to. I want to be able to work 12 hours today and 4 hours tomorrow. I want to be able to work 60 hours this week and 20 hours next week. My boss generally wants exactly the same thing. Flexibility benefits us both. In return for providing that flexibility, I get paid more every hour of every day than other employees.

      If I am paid overtime, I will most likely be restricted in my ability to adjust my hours to the work load and to my own schedule. This harms both myself and my employer, and dilutes the value that I bring as a contract employee. Ultimately I get paid less, not more.

      Broadly speaking, highly trained, highly valued professionals are in a sellers market and have no need for overtime. Purely commoditized and unskilled labor are the ones who need overtime laws to protect themselves.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krkosska ( 231054 )

      As tech workers in the US, we have a pretty sweet deal. Would you rather work long tech hours or regular hours doing ANYTHING else?
      Let's remember the lesson of the union workers for the steel industry, auto workers, etc, and let's take a moment to reflect on outsourcing...then let's make sure this gun isn't pointed at our collective foot.

    • Re:One solution (Score:4, Insightful)

      by encoderer ( 1060616 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @08:23AM (#24580985)

      It's not really an either/or.

      You can be a salaried employee who is paid for OT.

      And really, I don't need the government telling me how I can work. I'm a grown man. If I want to work for salary w/o OT, that's my call.

  • not getting caught (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:20AM (#24578937)
    OH! I get it! like the horrible economic reality that its in my best interests to steal cars as long as I don't get caught
    • by Asic Eng ( 193332 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:07AM (#24579185)
      OH! I get it! like the horrible economic reality that its in my best interests to steal cars as long as I don't get caught

      It would only be like that, if the punishment for stealing a car was less than the purchase price of that car.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        "It would only be like that, if the punishment for stealing a car was less than the purchase price of that car."

        Which it would probably be if you organised it as a corporation ...

    • by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:15AM (#24579217)

      Well, depending on your local laws and criminal penalties, your connections to the people already working in the car-stealing industry, and your current wealth and income, it may actually be in your best financial interests to start stealing cars until you get caught...

      I hear fuel-efficient cars are in pretty high demand (compared to the supply) in some parts of the USA right now, so I think stealing those is a growing "business". Get in now, while it's a new trend!

      Or not, if you don't like the idea of being a crook.

    • Actually, no. There is probably something you could do that would net you more. I.e., there is a better use for your time.

      Not paying overtime doesn't cost you time, but saves you money. There is no more efficient way to spend your time, even if there are things that will net you more money.

  • Wow.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrbcs ( 737902 )
    Big surprise.. workers getting screwed by their employers. /sarcasm
    When I was salaried, if I worked overtime, I took time off in lieu.
    I also documented my time and funny enough, at the end of the year I was within a couple hours.

    I hate day jobs.. much more fun being self-employed.

    • Re:Wow.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:33AM (#24579001) Journal

      One could take the libertarian view that says, "if you don't like the work conditions, go elsewhere". Of course, during recessions that's often not a viable choice.

      But libertarians tend to be social darwinists in that regard: "let the harsh markets weed out the weak". However, it may lead to the "ugly capitalism" found in 1800's Britain that inspired tons of novels and discourses bashing capitalism.

      These issues are still not settled in the US: the progressives and conservatives (semi-libertarians[1]) fight over these views endlessly.

      (It's ironic how conservatives tend to reject darwinism in biology, but embrace it in economics and distribution.)

      [1] Conservatives tend to be economic libertarians but regulation-oriented when it comes to sex. This is the main thing that distinguishes them from libertarians in my opinion.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jcr ( 53032 )

        the "ugly capitalism" found in 1800's

        First of all, what we had in the 1800s was mercantilism, more than capitalism. There was an awful lot of trading in government favors, tariffs, interference with competitors, etc. Secondly, even with those distortions in the market, the industrial revolution is what made our current standard of living possible. There weren't any gangs rounding people up off the farms and forcing them to go work in factories in England or the United States (it was Lenin who came up

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

          I've always thought that Communism was actually a trick. It was described as socialism, i.e. moving power from bosses to workers, but actually it was about rolling back progress in workers rights.

          E.g. in the Soviet Union it essentially ended up essentially reinstating Serfdom


          Some economic and political thinkers have argued that centrally-planned economies, especially the Soviet collective farm system and other systems based on Soviet-style Communist economics, amount to a return to government-owned serfdom. This view was put most powerfully by Friedrich Hayek in The Road to Serfdom as early as 1944 and has since been adopted by others including Mikhael Gorbachev. In certain Communist countries, farmers were tied to their farms, either kolkhoz which were theoretically collectives, or sovkhoz which were state-owned, through a system of internal passports and household registration. They had to plant crops according to instructions from the central authorities, especially if they were on state-run farms. These authorities would then "buy" their agricultural produce at vastly reduced prices and use the surplus to invest in heavy industry.

          This de facto serfdom persisted in Russia till as late as 1974 (with a brief break during the Civil War), when the Soviet Government Decree #667 was put in effect. This decree granted peasants identification documents, with an unrestricted right to move within the country â" thus detaching them from the piece of land where they had worked for generations, for the first time in Russian history.

  • according to the end-employee license agreement (eela) they signed, they only get paid for apple-labeled work hours. any other work hours aren't apple work hours, so they shouldn't expect any support from accounting when it comes to overtime.

    (yeah i know - horrible mac clone reference; its a little after 1 am here, i'll have my geek humor rested and ready tomorrow ;) )

  • Overtime (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:32AM (#24578999)

    I accepted my first IT Management position about 1.5 years ago. When I took the position I was familiar with the regulations as I had developed payroll software for a big U.S. payroll company for five years. The classification was the first question I brought up to HR. Fortunately, they had classified the employees correctly. However, when I started asking for timesheets, several of them complained.

    I'm not a big punch-the-clock guy and have pretty much left it to my employees' discretion as to how they fill out their timesheets. However, I ALWAYS insist that they put in all overtime and account for the not-too-infrequent off-the-clock weekend support calls. It's money they're due, period!

    Even if a company "gets away" with not paying overtime they are subject for stiff fines for violating labor law, often greater than the cost of paying the back overtime. It would also be a PR field day for their competitors. I know I would not buy from a company that didn't pay their employees due overtime.

    It's simply not worth your employees!

  • This is your friendly corporate PR guy come to tell you a heavily softened version of "If you push us we'll pay you your overtime, then have you train your indian replcement while we hold your severance pay hostage"

    have a nice day : ).

    Seriously. If I had a job in this crappy market, i'd be kissing some serious feet right now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Seriously. If I had a job in this crappy market, i'd be kissing some serious feet right now."

      You are in hell. I don't know if you realize it or not, but you are a slave with that mentality. You've sold your soul for a little piece of bread.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:42AM (#24579049) Journal

      I once saw a cartoon where the boss simply put up a big India national flag behind his desk. Nobody bothered to ask for raises.

    • The suit is being filed by a Network Engineer. These are the guys who keep the local infrastructure running - its tough to outsource that kind of thing to India.

      • by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:39AM (#24579613)

        The suit is being filed by a Network Engineer. These are the guys who keep the local infrastructure running - its tough to outsource that kind of thing to India.

        Just have an Indian support professional walk any secretary though any network maintenance procedures over IP phone. Easy! Efficient! Almost free! Then you can "let go" a few better paid network professionals, and hire an extra secretary or two (at minimun pay of course) to be the hands and eyes of the Indian network professionals. Guaranteed to save you big bucks on the long run!

        And remember, young female secretaries in skirts reaching up to change some cable is a much more aesthetic view, than a slightly overweight, bearded male engineer doing the same, Even assuming he doesn't wear a skirt... (Just try not get a mental image of him doing it in a skir...AAaaieee

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Danathar ( 267989 )

          Why would they need to do that? Connect a modem to the serial port of the hardware and they can dial in to fix the router.

          The only things that can't be outsourced (yet) are stuff that needs physical presence. Who knows, maybe your sysadmin might end up being a walking robot remote controlled by a low paid worker in china.....

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kent Recal ( 714863 )

        Never underestimate human/management stupidity.
        My ex-employer is currently performing his third outsourcing-experiment for core infrastructure - after the first two (thailand and russia, iirc) failed horribly.

        The ratio being (no kidding): "We pay only 1/3 for them, so we can try at least 3 times."
        Needless to say the damage done by the first two experiments already ate pretty much all potential savings for the next 5 years...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by encoderer ( 1060616 )

      I'm not sure where you live, but the tech market for software developers seems pretty strong right now.

      I've got 6 years experience. I'm writing this from a private office in the Triangle where I'm paid about $85k. I like my job just fine.

      Tomorrow evening I'm being flown to Sarasota for an interview for a company who called me and threw-out a 110-120k range.

      I started my career as a developer in the immediate aftermath of the .com burst. THAT was a bad market. This is peaches and cream.

  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:38AM (#24579029) Homepage

    FLSA or not, you get paid what you're worth. If not, then you move on. A strongly competitive market ensures that people will be able to find a new job. As long as they can do that, employers will have to pay an employee what they're worth if they want to keep them.

    • by Firehed ( 942385 )

      True enough. TFS points out the obvious in that if employers get away with a lawsuit settlement for less than they owed, it was a good deal. I'd extend that to suggest that if the employee following the suit was stupid enough to settle for less than s/he was owed, s/he wasn't worth the unpaid overtime money that was owed.

    • No, you don't get paid what you are worth. You get paid what you are worth IFF (if and only if) there is free movement of labor whereever there is free trade, and if labor and trade are equally restricted where there isn't free trade.

      If, on the other hand, you have free trade without free movement of labor, then...

      (1) The products produced by the labor will still be traded, but...
      (2) Only certain players [the corporations] will have permission to trade, so...
      (3) they will buy the labor, mark up the price,

  • Caveat Employee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:39AM (#24579035) Journal

    Usually one of the first questions I bring up upon being accepted for a position involves comp-time/overtime. Then I get it in writing.

    They can (and often do) quote policy at length, but you can (and should) negotiate changes more to your liking. But unless the job is an entry-level/helpdesk position, or the market really, really sucks? Never trust an employer to look out for your best interests... that's supposed to be your job, eh?


  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:45AM (#24579073)

    ""If they can settle [a complaint] for less than 100 percent of what they owe people [for overtime], they've gotten away with a good deal."'"

    This is why when the DA can prove that there was a conspiracy to carry out just such a policy, then they should be sent to a Federal Pound Me In The Ass Prison. I realize that there may not be any laws yet to cover this, but there should be.

    This reminds me of the Fight Club when Ed Norton's character is explaining to the woman on the plane that if the total legal liability is less than the cost of recalling all the defective cars, a recall is not issued. There is just no other way to say it... that is some nefarious heinous shit. If laws are really meant to protect and nurture society then this is EXACTLY the kind of crap that needs to be stopped.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Reminds me of a guy that I used to work with.

      We worked in downtown Tokyo, he insisted on driving. (We all used public transport.) Except he didn't have a parking space, so he parked right in front of the building, on the street, illegally, every day. I asked him once how he avoids parking tickets. He said he didn't bother too much.

      "Parking space costs about US$500 a month here. A parking ticket costs about US$100. They come around on the average three times a month to issue tickets. I actually only g

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

        That only works because most Japanese people won't break the law even if the fines are rather low, because they have principles. If there were more people like your friend parking fines would have to increase.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        So he was being a dick because he could get away with it.

        Not much to be proud of.

        Hear hear people, I'm being an asshole because nobody is forcing me to be considerate of others.

        People like him are the reason we need all these stupid little laws in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by EightBits ( 61345 )

      Bullshit. We have too damn many hippies trying to pass laws to protect the weak and lazy from themselves. All those laws do is remove Darwinian survival of the fittest from our society which only serves to make all of us weak. If we are to progress as a species and/or civilization, we need fewer laws to protect those who can't be bothered to protect themselves.

      In the end, this comes down to responsibility and we need to stop trying to pass the buck to everyone else. The fact that there is a law about ov

      • by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:10AM (#24579451)

        See, many people consider the idea of a Darwinist survival of the fittest and civilized society as oxymorons. You should not have to resort to Darwinist solutions to receive the pay agreed upon. Your compensation should not be a competition to see who can screw over who the most.

        The idea that laws and contracts should be followed not because you will be penalized for being caught but because they are laws and contracts is significant. I would go so far as to say it defines much of our western society, or at least the ideals our western society strives for at its best.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by EightBits ( 61345 )

          While I agree with you on some matters, I disagree with you on others. Darwinist solutions are time-tested and known to work quite well. But we are destroying our ability to survive by pampering those that lack the skills and motivation. Instead, we should be pushing them harder.

          I don't believe in blindly following laws written by people that are not affected by them. I am of the belief that our laws are too complex and as such are becoming more and more meaningless and useless. I should have the right

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

      This reminds me of the Fight Club when Ed Norton's character is explaining to the woman on the plane that if the total legal liability is less than the cost of recalling all the defective cars, a recall is not issued. There is just no other way to say it... that is some nefarious heinous shit. If laws are really meant to protect and nurture society then this is EXACTLY the kind of crap that needs to be stopped.

      No, if that were the case the solution is to make the legal liability for defective products killing someone higher. And in the US, legal liability is higher than almost anyone else. This should make US products safer.

      Certainly companies go to greater lengths to avoid being sued for injuring someone in the US than elsewhere. Of course, the price for all this is eventually paid for by the consumer in terms of more expensive stuff.

  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:46AM (#24579079) Journal

    Now I'm going to use this to take a dig at the free market and capitalism. This is why pure capitalism doesn't work. Companies don't try to "compete", they will lie, cheat, steal and break the law just to make a buck. That's because people will lie, cheat and steal to make a buck. Which is of course why communism doesn't work either. Because of people. And the company will keep selling the products because this makes them cheap. And people will keep buying them because they don't care about whoever is getting cheated.

    Remember, it's not the company doing this to people, it's just people doing it to people. In the end that's all it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gamer_2k4 ( 1030634 )

      Which is of course why communism doesn't work either. Because of people.

      But that's the same reason that capitalism is so much better than communism. With communism, the incentive is that you'll be providing for others, and they'll help you in return. However, with capitalism, you get what you put into it. Because there's personal motivation, capitalism works. Sure, with capitalism, people will do whatever it takes to get money. But the truth is, even if they're lying and cheating to make that money, they're still ultimately helping their company and society in general. An

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

        There was a joke in Russia

        "In Capitalism, man exploits man. In Communism it is the reverse"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      "This is why pure capitalism doesn't work."

      Most big companies wouldn't exist in a free market, and most small companies can't afford to 'cheat' employees, so your point is not very convincing. While there are exceptions, big companies generally rely on big government to keep new, small competitors out of the market, funnel taxpayers' money to them and protect them from irate employees and ex-employees with RPGs, .50-caliber sniper rifles and surface-to-surface missiles.

      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

        Actually its the opposite, look at the late 1800s. Without the government stopping them, economies of scale and the ability to price below cost and temporarily absorb the loss causes every industry to favor monopolies. With an industrialized society you either have heavy government involvement or EVERYTHING is a few big companies. Most likely those would merge as well, to form vertical monopolies and to tie products. In the end you'd have one company for everything but the markets that are too small for

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:50AM (#24579367)

      Because I haven't seen anyone here propose a pure capitalism, and you'll find very few people who advocate such. You'll also notice that countries that are capitalism aren't pure capitalism. Capitalism also DOES work because it is the only system I've seen that deals with people, specifically that they are lazy and greedy. While it is not true of all people or in all cases, as a general rule people are lazy and greedy. They'd rather not work, if given the option, and would like to have more stuff. Capitalism plays one off the other, using greed to overcome laziness. Not perfect and doesn't work in a pure state, but it is certainly better than anything else tried.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 )

      You are right, for some value of "doesn't work". The trick is in designing the system in such a way that it causes egoistic people to do things that are beneficial to others.

      A free market does that, because it provides an incentive for you to produce what others want, so you can trade it for things they have that you want. And it provides an incentive for you to charge a reasonable price for it, because, if you don't, someone else will produce the same thing and trade it for less, and you will be left with

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Definitely. If we take all the people out of the equation, we could have utopia!

      I'm not being sarcastic. People always want to put on rose-colored glasses and talk about all the nice people in the world and the goodness of mankind. You may find this in churches and charities, but honestly, in the business world, dog-eat-dog cutthroat attitudes prevail. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone in a position of power that didn't use some unscrupulous means somewhere along the line to get there.

      You are exac
  • Crazy idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @01:59AM (#24579141)
    How about an employee and an employer agree to an amount of pay, a schema for that pay be it salary or hourly, and a set of duties. Then if either side decides at a later point the agreement is no longer suitable, the relationship can be severed.

    Crazy shit, I know.

    • Re:Crazy idea. (Score:5, Informative)

      by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:28AM (#24580301) Journal

      How about an employee and an employer agree

      That's quite an unequal bargaining table, stacked substantially in favor of the employer.

      Laissez Faire capitalism was tried and failed in the US nearly a decade ago, precisely because the individual has such minuscule bargaining power compared to a large company.

      It wasn't the free-market and contract law that ended sweatshops in the developed world.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Danathar ( 267989 )

      Except that you don't see this until your paycheck comes in and it's less than what you agreed to and the employer says "quit and sue me!".

      So you do and now...

      1. you are out of a job


      2. Now you have to sue a company while looking for a job.

  • Read for yourself... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MillenneumMan ( 932804 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:08AM (#24579195)

    The FLSA is actually pretty clear and easy to follow: []

    It is not hard to determine whether or not your own role qualifies as exempt or non-exempt. Where it gets interesting is if you have seasonal duties, such as being a software developer for part of the year (which would be exempt from overtime pay) and then providing technical support for that software during a different part of the year (which would be non-exempt, or due overtime pay). A good example might be developers at Turbo Tax that code in the fall and do tax software support during the spring (which is tax season in the United States). If more than 20% of your work during the year is non-exempt then your employer cannot classify you as exempt and you must be paid for all overtime as if you were non-exempt year round.

  • Top Ten Reasons To Work An Overtime Shift On The Weekend 10. Think of all the weight you'll lose from not getting to eat because of short staffing. 9. Think of the closeness you'll develop with you're co-workers after being knee-deep in Code 10's/Blues and Code "Browns". 8. Everyone is so frazzled, so next to them you look fabulous! 7. Think of what a challenge it will be to your nursing skills to run a Code without a Crash Cart because they are all down in Central being replaced. 6. The joy of having
  • The problem is that many exempt employees don't know what their rights are.

    Subject to certain exceptions set forth in the regulations, in order to be considered "salaried", employees must receive their full salary for any workweek in which they perform any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked

    The exemptions are too long to quote here, but the exemptions all cover missing entire days.

    Read section 541.602 []

    This means that as long as I get my work done, I can go home at noon every day if I wa

  • One place I worked sent around something to sign, acknowledging being exempt employees (the meaning of which was not explained). This was despite everyone being explicitly paid by the hour.

    Trust me, if you ever find yourself working at a place run by non-douchebags, hold on for dear life, because you just threaded the needle big-time.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:30AM (#24579289) Homepage

    Also bear in mind that, for the IT field, California has additional laws about who's overtime-exempt and who's not based on, among other things, salary and effective hourly rate. Relevant law is California Labor Code section 515.5 []. As of 2007 the effective hourly rate needed to qualify as overtime-exempt was $49.77/hour. SB 929 [] changed that effective 1/1/2008 to $36/hour, or not quite $75K/year in salary. Anyone in the IT field not being paid at least that amount is not exempt from overtime in California regardless of other qualifications (the exemption requires that all conditions hold).

  • by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:14AM (#24579469) Homepage

    Why is it that "tech workers" are virtually the only group singled out for getting the shaft on overtime pay.
    Sure, other groups have exceptions in state and federal law (truck drivers, fruit pickers, etc), but if you look across the board - virtually all states have sections just for us in the overtime part of the law and no other group gets screwed in such a wide swath of area.
    This even extends to Canada.

    I left an employer who stiffed me on overtime pay "accidentally" and when I talk to other people in town, the general consensus is their employers "don't pay overtime... and they have lawyers on hand to ensure they don't start paying."

    Interesting, no?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilviper ( 135110 )

      Why is it that "tech workers" are virtually the only group singled out for getting the shaft on overtime pay.

      Because wage laws were designed for "blue collar" workers almost exclusively. "White collar" jobs were exempt because those were mostly managers and executives who got payed plenty, anyhow, and those jobs didn't translate into hours of labor precisely either.

      IT is just what happened to come along and dramatically expanded the pool of non-union, white collar jobs, which didn't fall under most wage la

  • CSC got busted. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:41AM (#24579623) Homepage Journal

    My check was about 1/10th [] of what they legitimately owed me.

  • by LKM ( 227954 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:00AM (#24579717) Homepage

    I really don't get overtime for programmers. Well, perhaps if you need to ship in a few days and aren't quite finished yet, so you work overtime for a few days. That could work.

    But constant overtime? It just doesn't work.

    If you're building a wall and putting one brick on another, you're probably going to do about twice as much work in twice the time. This does not apply to programming. I've noticed that I have about 4 to 6 hours of programming in me each day. Some days it's more; perhaps up to 10 hours. But most days, it's around 4 to 6 hours.

    After I've run out of "programmming" time, I have to stop programming, because if I continue to write code, I'll have to spend time rewriting it the next day. I simply start writing crap code after about 4 to 6 hours of writing code. I can't properly concentrate on writing code anymore, I guess. Once I reach this point, I typically start doing administrativa, replying to mails, answering support calls, writing documentation and such. Or I just go home (happily, I can do that at my current work place; as long as my output is good, I don't need to put in the time).

    In my experience, most programmers work the same way. Nobody codes well for 10 hours a day, each day.

    This gets us to overtime. If you force people to continue writing code after their natural code writing limit is exhausted, they will write crap. And they will have to refactor that crap. So in effect, forcing programmers to work overtime will slow down your project, because they'll start spending more and more time fixing broken code instead of writing good fresh code.

    • by antirelic ( 1030688 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:20AM (#24580281) Journal

      I'm not so sure I agree with where your going with your argument. Sure, if your a programmer, you may not be able to program for more than 4-6 hours, but that doesnt mean you've "stopped working". Doing all that administrative bullshit IS WORKING, and you should be compensated for it. Every worker should be compensated for every second they perform or are forced to sit "on the job".

      While I am fervently anti-socialism/communism, I do not agree with the whole "time and a half" and "double time". However, everyone should be paid for every hour they work. In the long run, no business works for free. Your software company doesnt give away its software for free. Your IT services company charges for every second you are on the job. Why shouldnt you get paid the same?

      Lets face it, the days of being a "company man" are over. Every individual needs to treat themselves as a "business". Since we are forced to pay for our own training (some people will let their companies pay for their training, and then sign "reimbursement contracts" for x amount of time, but I digress) and are simply a "cost" on a "chart". If you work for free (aka: uncompensated overtime), then you should look at it this way: I just gave my boss and his boss money that I actually earned (because most management types get bonuses for cutting down on "hours paid"). So the next time you want to argue against over time (not directed to the parent), go ahead and give a piece of your earned paycheck back to your company because it is the same thing.

  • by TheThiefMaster ( 992038 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:17AM (#24579791)

    Article should be titled "What *US* Tech Workers Need to Know About Overtime".

    Very few stories on here are US-specific, and they should be labelled as such.

  • by Fractal Dice ( 696349 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:40AM (#24580653) Journal
    Funny thing I've noticed is that the more hours I work, the less I usually get done. It's not a conscious or deliberate thing, it's just that morale is hard to measure on a spreadsheet.
  • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @08:26AM (#24581029)
    The more stories I read like this, the more grateful I am that I don't work in the US. The whole mindset when it comes to employment T&Cs seems like something out the dark ages.
    I'ts bad enough that the employers treat staff badly but so many people seem to support that say ing get another job if you don't like it - what if all employers behave badly?
  • by daveywest ( 937112 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:21PM (#24585057)

    I worked as a graphic designer at the corporate office for a now defunct Multi-level Marketing company. The family-owned company had become very arrogant. Shortly after I left, they were raided by federal marshals and the FDA who confiscated about half their product line.

    They tried to have the best of both worlds when accounting for my time and pay. If I took off early for a doctor's appointment, I had to write up a time card deducting those hours, but if a project required additional hours, it was just part of the job.

    I began documenting all the time I spent on work beyond 8 hours after the marketing V.P. complained to my supervisor that I was leaving after an 8-hour day. Shortly after that, the company laid off half the work-force. Two other designers quitting just weeks before was the only reason I survived the layoff.

    With the expectation of increased hours growing, I talked with HR. I was told that the labor laws said not completing required work constituted insubordination.

    A week after I quit, I mailed them a bill for just under $3,000 in unpaid overtime. I included a short primer on labor laws culled from web research that detailed why I was incorrectly classified as exempt, and that their payroll practices forfeited any claim to my position being exempt.

    I knew the company wasn't going to be around much longer, so I felt pretty safe leaving the burned bridge. I didn't want a future prospective employer talking to these clowns. 18 months later, I attended their bankruptcy auction and bought the filing cabinet that contained a few grand in graphic design software.

    P.S. They paid the entire amount I billed them. I later heard this wasn't the first time they had been hit by a labor issue claim, and they had been advised that it might get bumped up to class action if someone was allowed to pursue litigation. Personally, I was bluffing. I was gonna let it drop with the letter, but the check was just icing on the cake.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell