back to article This job Win-blows! Microsoft made me pull '75-hour weeks' in a shopping mall kiosk

A former Microsoft retail manager is suing the software giant for making her work long hours without overtime and breaks. Her lawsuit, set to be heard by a US district court in northern California, alleged Redmond violated labor laws by unfairly classifying her, a retail worker, as a professional salaried employee to stiff her …

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Re: To be honest...

Never mind Microsoft. What employer ever behaved substantially differently?

I was brought up with the idea that doing as many hours as it takes (unpaid) was precisely what distinguishes a professional job from a unionised blue-collar one.

Though a change in that culture would perhaps be no bad thing. If she can contribute to that then good on her!

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Re: To be honest...

Not all of us. Some of us opted out of the Redmond clusterfuck a long time ago.

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Anonymous Coward

'Microsoft has us all working extra hours'

As Microsoft retrenched on support I was the support glue for friends / family / colleagues. No more! I refuse to help anyone with Win-10 / Office-365 etc. If they want to switch to Mint / LibreOffice, I'll be back. But Microsoft crossed the line: Forcing us pay to be slurped at OS level AND forced to endure Updates, even onto development PC's w/o LTSB. That's criminal! Be the change you want to see in the world. Facebook / Google slurp was bad but this is awful. Vote with your wallet - Tell MS to 'f' off!

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Re: To be honest...

Microsoft are probably no worse than many big employers.

I fail to understand this difference between 'professional' and other workers for overtime. A job basically comprises a contract to work X hours for Y pay. Okay, in a managerial/professional/senior setting you may vary your hours from 9-5 to get a job done, but then you take time off later.

In a previous life my manager tried that "unpaid overtime, professional, paid to do a job, yada yada ..." line on me. I gently explained the idea that a definition of professional is 'paid to do something' and that the opposite is 'amateur' - does something for fun without pay. I suggested if he wanted a professional job, then he needed to pay for it. The alternative was getting some incredibly amateur work - which would end up costing the company a lot more.

I got the overtime, but I also took voluntary redundancy soon after (and went straight into a better-paid new job which didn't question overtime rates)

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Re: To be honest...

"I fail to understand this difference between 'professional' and other workers for overtime."

If you earn wages, then your typically paid for your time (per-hour). If your salaried, then your paid a fix amount to deliver the requirements of your role, additionally your contract will say "To work X hours per week, but may be required to additional hours when required etc"... but the keyword missing here is "reasonable"

I always used to be the person that "jumped" and felt it was my responsibility, even taking my laptop on holiday and working half the time. But I wised up and refused to do it anymore. Initially the manager didn't take any action, then one day the shit hit the fan and I refused to bail them out (didn't have my phone or laptop with me), days later, I suddenly got permission to recruit 2 new people!

These days, my take on the "May be required to work additional hours", only applies if

a) The issue is causing the company financial loss or impacting operations

b) This issue was unforeseen

c) The issue was caused by my miscalculation or underestimating

d) Any additional hours are reasonable and exceptional (once every few months)

If the company are made aware of the problem and don't take steps address it, then I don't feel its my responsibility to constantly bail them out.

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Re: 'Microsoft has us all working extra hours'

I fell your pain- I'm also using the line "Oh you have Windows 10? I'm sorry but I don't know that operating system- you're better off ringing the Microsoft support line."

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Re: To be honest...

"You wouldn't have had to do that if Windows wasn't so crap, would you?"

There are at least a couple of answers to that.

One is that I've been using computers, including and preferring Unix or the Unix-like, since before Windows existed so it's not so much a matter of opting out as not opting in any more than was unavoidable.

Another was a gem of Microsoft's arrogance: they had adhesive inserted between the pages of a magazine with the tag line "Don't get stuck with Microsoft". For that arrogance I've always preferred to obey that ambiguous suggestion in the way they didn't intend.

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Re: To be honest...

I'd like to give you a million up-votes

Life is too short to be screwed by big business like this, who would happily work you 24/7 for minimal wage and then fire and replace when it suits them. wake up peoples

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To be honest...

"I was brought up with the idea that doing as many hours as it takes (unpaid) was precisely what distinguishes a professional job from a unionised blue-collar one"

Absolutely. Sometimes you need to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Sometimes. I think we're seeing an emerging trend where the term Professional is being abused to work around labour regulations.

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Re: To be honest...

Indeed.

Requests for me to work more than my contracted hours generate less alarm than when I ask to help myself to the companies petty cash account.

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Re: To be honest...

No.

A professional jobs gets the work estimate correct.

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Re: To be honest...

' "To work X hours per week, but may be required to additional hours when required etc"'

Get them to remove 'reasonable' from the contract and put an exact number in.

Then bump up the salary by that number, pro rata x 2 .

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Re: To be honest...

Or ...

Ask the company to sell whatever it sells as £x but the customer may ask for more.

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Re: To be honest...

...difference between 'professional' and other workers for overtime...

I think the rationale is that "professional" workers put in extra effort in the expectation (realistic or otherwise) of promotion. Your career prospects are also supposed to make you a stakeholder in the business, so you put in more effort than you're paid for. The free overtime is an investment in your future.

A worker in a menial retail job has no prospect of promotion, and won't be paid more if the business thrives, so can't be expected to contribute free overtime.

This, at any rate, is the line that management expect people to swallow.

The theory is borne out by people like software engineers. They're professional and often highly-paid, but they can only be promoted by turning good engineers into crap managers. They usually get overtime and out-of-hours pay. Me, I'm a contractor, so I have no prospects of any kind.

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Re: To be honest...

Sometimes. I think we're seeing an emerging trend where the term Professional is being abused to work around labour regulations.

Sometimes? It's the norm.

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K
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Re: To be honest...

@HmmmYes

Its a rare company that will bind themselves to those type of limits - A company needs to be able to manage unforeseen circumstance, whilst at the same time forecasting expenditure on staff.

With my present role, I'm on call.. under these circumstances the thing to do is ask the right questions, such as

a) Is this a shared responsibility and with a rota (How often will you be on call)

b) How quickly are you expected to respond out of hours

c) Does the salary include an amount to cover this? (i.e. market rate + value you place on your free time)

d) What additional incentives are there?

If a company says they its ad-hoc, or they're looking adding compensation.. then turn down the role and go elsewhere - as it will never materialise.

(I used to be a manager at such a company, the recruiting manager(s) would spin this as "coming soon..", but it never did!)

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@ Pen-y-gors

I gently explained the idea that a definition of professional is 'paid to do something' and that the opposite is 'amateur' - does something for fun without pay.

Good for you.

You evidently didn't graduate into a big recession. That's one life-circumstance that's out of our individual control. Studies have shown that the self-confidence (or otherwise) that comes from graduating into a good or a difficult jobs market stays with most of us throughout working life. The term "lost generation" is sometimes applied to cohorts who graduated at the wrong time, while your lot thrive.

Kudos if you're the rare exception, but it seems most unlikely.

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Re: To be honest...

Amen, @K, amen. That's how you deal with this problem.

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Re: "forced to endure Updates"

Really? You mean you can't just run Altair basic for 43 years?

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Re: To be honest...

What effort? Moving to Linux was as simple as installing it on a spare partition on my BSD/Coherent/Minix test box and rebooting. True, I had to recompile a few things. And I had to re-write a few scripts (both the Coherent and Minix versions of the various shells had oddities/errata/bugs if you came to them from BSD). But Linux was obviously a un*x right from the git-go. Took no effort at all. Certainly a lot less than moving from XP to Vista or Win7 to Win8 or Win8 to Win10 ...

When I opted out of the Redmond clusterfuck, it was only as a support person. I had been using un*x as my primary OS longer than Microsoft had been selling an OS.

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Re: To be honest...

"You wouldn't have had to make all that effort of moving to Linux if Windows wasn't so crap, would you?"

It's probably less effort to move to from Win7 to Linux than from Win7 to Win10. It;s certainly quicker!

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Re: 'Microsoft has us all working extra hours'

Indeed, where I work, we're pretty much limited to 'reinstall it', 'deal with it' or 'disable wuauserv' on the win10 front...

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Anonymous Coward

Emerging trend? Really?

" I think we're seeing an emerging trend where the term Professional is being abused to work around labour regulations."

It was emerging about 40 years ago.

They really shouldn't have abused the concept of staff getting no overtime pay when the same staff were responsible for payroll and could see what a skilled shop floor supervisor was taking home every week...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To be honest...

A worker in a menial retail job has no prospect of promotion, and won't be paid more if the business thrives, so can't be expected to contribute free overtime.

Ahh... but it says she was a retail booth manager. Doesn't matter if there was nobody to manage, you work with that title and expect to be exempt.

On another note, in 2016, the Department of Labor (Obama administration) attempted to increase the salary limit for exempt employees upwards from $23,600 (so more people would be non-exempt), but this was stopped a a court. Which one? If you guessed U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, favorite to patent trolls everywhere, you're a weiner!

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Re: To be honest...

The theory is borne out by people like software engineers. They're professional and often highly-paid, but they can only be promoted by turning good engineers into crap managers. They usually get overtime and out-of-hours pay. Me, I'm a contractor, so I have no prospects of any kind.

Can you get me a job there? No software engineers in the USA making more than $23,600/yr are exempt, and nobody's going to pay them any overtime. How you you think silicon valley startups operate?

On the other hand, when I was a contractor, I would be paid overtime, but usually used it as an excuse to work no more than 40 hours per week.

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Re: 'Microsoft has us all working extra hours'

I'm guessing the thumbs-down are from all those people who expect free technical support from their IT-savvy colleagues/family/friends.

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If true, then MS do indeed need a slap.

But I do sometimes wonder why people feel "forced" to work to strange demands and only raise it months later via a lawyer.

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@Phil Kingston

Agreed. Puzzles me too.

Unless it was their first job, they will be FULLY aware of the laws regarding which jobs pay overtime and which do not.

Yet she accepted a salaried position as a manager. It does indeed sound like she was treated badly, but nothing was forcing her to accept it.

Escalate the issue and ask for answers in writing, leave, find a new job. Take time off regardless of what you're told and invite them to discipline you (with all the appropriate records and discussions this brings) etc etc.

The list of options available to someone other than "put up with it then suddenly sue" is quite a long one.

Don't just carry on then sue for a massive amount of money.

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Anonymous Coward

Wants to have her cake & eat it?

If she were in a non-exempt waged position she would presumably have been on an hourly rate. That generally adds up to less than a salaried worker gets for the same hours per month, which is why salaried workers are expected to do what the job takes, perhaps with an occasional bonus for "above & beyond". She seems to be asking for overtime on top of a salary, which we'd all love to have. Has she worked out what she would have been paid on a non-exempt hourly-wage + overtime basis? Much the same, I suspect, maybe even less.

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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

@AC

She seems to be asking for overtime on top of a salary, which we'd all love to have.

What's wrong with that? Is this some strange USian notion that if you are paid a monthly salary, rather than hourly, that makes you a slave who can be forced to work 24/7 without any extra compensation? Next you'll be saying they can be sacked without reason or compensation.

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"but nothing was forcing her to accept it."

Except, you know, possibly the need to eat and have somewhere to live?

Vonnegut's Player Piano is instructive here.

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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

What's wrong with that?

Wel, it's only the whole crux of this case.

Is this some strange USian notion that if you are paid a monthly salary, rather than hourly, that makes you a slave who can be forced to work 24/7 without any extra compensation?

Who suggested that? You're paid according to your contract. In general people who are paid by the hour have defined hours, and can get overtime beyond that. Those of us on monthly salaries are paid to do a job, our contracts rarely include overtime (but may allow for bonuses or extra time off). There's nothing USAian about that (I'm not from the US). This person seems to have a monthly salary but wants overtime as if she were an hourly worker. In my experience people with monthly salaries earn more, per hour, than hourly waged staff, and part of that is because we are sometimes called upon to do additional work.

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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

I for one would like some cake

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FIA
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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

Those of us on monthly salaries are paid to do a job, our contracts rarely include overtime (but may allow for bonuses or extra time off). There's nothing USAian about that (I'm not from the US). This person seems to have a monthly salary but wants overtime as if she were an hourly worker.

The problem is this idea has become culturally acceptable, and people defend it.

I'm a salaried developer, so no overtime, however project cost estimations include my time with a per hour cost, so it's obviously a metric that exists and is how the company budgets my time. Therefore unless I mess up I work the hours I'm contracted to; as they're the hours I'm paid for. My company doesn't 'care' about me, I'm a resource used to produce a thing. I'm not doing my company a favour by turning up to work, I do it because they pay me.

The reality is, sometimes things take longer than estimated, which incurs extra costs, some of which are peoples time. Otherwise you're just making accountants look good.

Why is there this assumption the extra effort we put into being skilled makes us value our time less? If we carry on perpetuating this idea that we should just work extra for free people will keep taking advantage of it. In 10 years time your company won't care, if you've moved on you may not even remember, but your partner or children will remember that time you weren't around because you were working late, or that school play you missed because... work.

Your employer isn't a person, it's not you're friend, it's a business that remunerates you for your skill and time. We all seem to value the first, lets value the latter a bit more too.

In my experience people with monthly salaries earn more, per hour, than hourly waged staff, and part of that is because we are sometimes called upon to do additional work.

Which you should be paid for. You're paid more because you're higher skilled; not because you're willing to work for free. (Or you shouldn't be).

Frankly, I'm sick of this idea in IT we should just be happy to be taken the piss out of because it's somehow 'professional'.

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Contrary to popular mythological fantasy, jobs do not grow on trees.

That's why.

Because they ARE forced to stay.

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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

Everyone in the company I work for in the UK, (US parent corp), are on salaries, not hourly rates.

All the non management roles, developers, testers, support people etc. All have a set number of contractual hours (39 hours is the standard number), anything above your contract hours is automatically classed as overtime with agreed rates depending on time/day. If working overtime, it has to be agreed with both the employee and the account who are paying for it, or you do work-off-in-lieu. No one can force you to work beyond your contract hours.

Management is different, in that they are payed for the job, so no overtime, but they do have things like bonuses and share options, which we don't get.

From talking to friends in other companies, also IT roles, this is standard practice in the UK for technical roles.

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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

No one can force you to work beyond your contract hours.

A recent letter to the Prime Minister suggests there are 62 MPs who would be willing to see this change. They are such great fans of free trade that they wish to walk away from membership of the largest free trade bloc on the planet. The only way that trade (with the added cost of moving products over greater distances) is going to be replaced in the face of cheaper labour abroad is by cutting costs, and you can guess where the first cuts will fall.

It's not like the party the 62 belong to doesn't have form, however much one particular minister (with a less than stellar reputation for consistency and integrity) currently declares that there will be no such race to the bottom.

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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

@FIA

"The reality is, sometimes things take longer than estimated, which incurs extra costs, some of which are peoples time. Otherwise you're just making accountants look good.

Yep, but estimates are just that, estimates, not fixed-price quotes. And if the management accept those estimates, then they work to them. If they turn out to be too low, why should you work for nothing to get things back on track? Didn't they include some contingency for just that? And what if the estimates are wrong because of duff info from management in the first place?

And if they insist on you working free hours to correct under-estimates, will they also let you have extra time off with pay if you come in under estimate? Sauce for the goose...

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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

"one particular minister (with a less than stellar reputation for consistency and integrity) currently declares that there will be no such race to the bottom."

When a politician says that [adverse thing] for [the rest of us] is not going to happen, what that really means is that they have not yet worked out a way to persuade us to vote for it.

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Re: Wants to have her cake & eat it?

Which you should be paid for. You're paid more because you're higher skilled; not because you're willing to work for free. (Or you shouldn't be).

I've never suggested otherwise, despite what people seem to be assuming from my comments. I am also a salaried developer, and my contract defines what I do for that salary. Occasionally I'll be asked to do some extra, for which I may get a "thank you", or maybe a bonus or stock options. If I were asked to work "for free" I would refuse, indeed one reason I left my last job was when my then manager (actually a very decent guy) admitted that I'd been put on a high-priority project because I'd been willing to work extra hours. He wasn't surprised that I quit.

Frankly, I'm sick of this idea in IT we should just be happy to be taken the piss out of because it's somehow 'professional'.

I'm not suggesting that. It's professional to see a project through once you've committed to it, just as it's professional for your boss to reward you for extra effort. Personally I don't want to have a fixed set of hours to work, with a boss who complains if I work more because he'll have to pay overtime. I'll do the work that needs to be done, for a fair salary. I'll discuss it with my boss if that isn't working out, and I'll quit if I think I'm being exploited. It's worked for 35 years, I don't see it changing now.

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Staff?

Skeletal staff would actually be useful if all they had to lift was the occasional software package. I suppose they wouldn't want long lunch breaks either.

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PMs vs overtime pay

If there was ever a job that needed overtime pay, it's IT. Perhaps that way there might be an incentive to plan and budget projects properly instead of picking numbers from a lottery machine and sticking them on a spreadsheet.

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Re: PMs vs overtime pay

IT needs to be unionized as well. (but more as a professional association with really good lawyers)

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Re: PMs vs overtime pay

IT needs to be unionized as well. (but more as a professional association with really good lawyers)

God no. I work in a French unionized IT house. Absolute fscking shambles, even though they haven't tried to call any strikes yet. Just don't go there, ever.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft’s business models require stealing and reselling personal data.

....."When we talk about why we're upgrading the Windows 10 install base, why is that upgrade free? MS CFO asked during a meeting with Wall Street analysts. These are all new monetization opportunities once a PC is sold. Microsoft's strategy is to go low on consumer Windows licenses, hoping that that will boost device sales, which will in turn add to the pool of potential customers for 'Advertising'".....

....."CEO Nadella has referred to the customer revenue potential as 'lifetime value' in the past -- and did so again last week during the same meeting with Wall Street -- hinting at Microsoft's strategy to make more on the back end of the PC acquisition process. The more customers, the more money those customers will bring in as they view 'Ads'".....

https://www.computerworld.com/article/2917799/microsoft-windows/microsoft-fleshes-out-windows-as-a-service-revenue-strategy.html

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Re: Microsoft’s business models require stealing and reselling personal data.

"....."When we talk about why we're upgrading the Windows 10 install base, why is that upgrade free? MS CFO asked during a meeting with Wall Street analysts. These are all new monetization opportunities once a PC is sold. Microsoft's strategy is to go low on consumer Windows licenses, hoping that that will boost device sales, which will in turn add to the pool of potential customers for 'Advertising'"....."

and that whole post is relevant to the article because ........

answers on a postcard

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My own (UK) experience

I found early on in my career in IT projects as a lowly engineer that overtime was usually paid.

Moving up through the ranks in latter years, you'd be expected to put in extra hours as required (to a point) unpaid but the salary and benefits you got by that time tended to reward you for it.

However, once I'd stepped up to the really senior roles, it became untenable - I was finding myself working 14-16 hour days and often having to respond to calls at random times of the day and night for very little extra reward and it began to feel like my employer was starting to take the pee with their demands.

I spoke to them about it and was offered more money to compensate but that was missing the whole point of my lack of work/life balance.

So...I moved to another company with more money and fewer demands.

I don't totally blame my employers at the time - I could have refused to take on some of the extra work, or turned my phone off etc as well as take the extra money being offered.

But...never in a million years did it occur to me that I should sue them though as ultimately it came down to ME making the choices.

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Re: My own (UK) experience

Personal responsibility is such a British trait. It doesn't apply to our left-pondian cousins.

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