Class of "technical writers" seeking overtime certified in suit against Sun Microsystems

In a case that may draw renewed attention to wage & hour practices at high tech businesses, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Jack Komar certified a class comprised of "technical writers" employed by Sun Microsystems since 2002.  Plaintiff Hoenemier is challenging the company's practice of treating Hoenemier and about 300 other writers as exempt from state labor laws governing overtime and breaks.  At issue in this case is the overtime exemption applicable to "computer professionals," found at Cal. Labor Code section 515.5.  "If the company loses, it could owe 'well over $20 million' in back pay, according to Hoenemier's attorney, Aaron Kaufmann of Walnut Creek."  (Brandon Bailey, Sun overtime lawsuit a class action (May 15, 2008)

Sun contends in the suit that it is an industry-wide practice to classify technical writers as exempt under section 515.5.  If the Court ultimately determines that Sun is wrong in its classification, the whole industry will face a wave of wage & hour lawsuits, given that suits for back wages remain viable, irrespective of a corrective classification going forward.

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