Thursday, December 02, 2004

Overworked Software Engineers Unite!

In Salon: "keyboard jockeys" at Electronic Arts are filing a class action lawsuit to get back pay of thousands of hours of uncompensated overtime.

As much as we academics like to complain about overwork, it's people in high tech who really get stuck with it. (Doctors and lawyers too, but that much we already knew.) Academics work plenty (sometimes), but we have the small side-benefit that -- at least in the humanities -- we can do much of our work from home.

But regarding the EA employees, is any of this legally actionable? I'm skeptical. Judging from the Salon article, at most they can get compensation, and even that is questionable, since California exempts computer programmers from laws limiting overtime. Interestingly, the best shot legally for the EA employees filing the suit is if their work is considered part of the entertainment industry -- in which case the exemptions to overtime laws don't apply.

Note to software friends: you might have less difficulty with these things if you had unions...

(Then again, I'm an academic. What's a union?)


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