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A former network engineer from Apple has sued the company for its sweatshop practices. The lawsuit, seeking class-action status, accuses Apple of creating job titles in order to receive exemption from federal overtime pay and other rights assigned by the federal and California law. From the report, it seems that a 90-hour week is very much regular at Apple and most people seemed to have accepted it and felt proud of it.

In the software industry, it is fairly common place to find people working overtime but not being compensated for it. Many are of the view that the salary that is offered takes into account the overtime hours that may be required. Still, I do not reckon that a salary is offered with the idea of a 90-hour week on a regular basis. It is acceptable if people are asked to put in extra hours with a deadline looming, but extra time on a regular basis is something not easily digested.

In my experience, I have seen many software companies deliberately understaffing their teams in an effort to reduce costs. I have my doubts whether this approach really works. For one, during the testing phase, an overworked resource is more likely to miss out on some critical defect. Similarly an overworked engineer is more likely to make a mistake while coding. So all-in-all it looks like the overall quality of the software would go down. This did not seem to be case with Apple’s products till now. With the release of MobileMe however, it seems like Apple is paying for it. In a recent e-mail to its employees, Steve Jobs has admitted that MobileMe is not upto Apple’s standards. Here is a link to the e-mail.

So is it right for an ex-employee to sue its former employer over lack of compensation for overtime work? The answer is really not a simple one. An employee usually comes to know about the lack of compensation very soon after he joins an organization. So if he does not agree with it, he has the option of leaving the company and looking for propects that fit his needs better. An employee also has the oppotunity of taking his employer to court immediately. Instead, the person decides to continue; after all the glamour and pride of working for a company like Apple is hard to give up. After several years of service, the employee finally decides to give up his job and sues his employer for making him work overtime?

What the ….? You put up with your employer’s practices for years and then when you can’t take it any more you go to the authorities. Why didn’t you do it sooner? What happened now, that you want to take action against your employer? Ridiculous. If you didn’t like it why didn’t you leave the job earlier? These are questions that are going to be coming up in this lawsuit.

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