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Friday, April 20, 2012

Are you a SWE or not? You can't have it both ways.

Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm are going to court as reported by Wired. Check out that article for context if you haven't heard about it.

I'm going to make a prediction with this post: only people literally employed as software engineers (SWEs) in some exacting timeframe will be included in the class. The companies involved will do everything they can to limit the extent of the class and thus the penalties if they are found responsible or guilty (or whatever the wording is for this kind of thing).

This means if you were working in a position like SRE (site reliability engineering) which they have steadfastly claimed is a mix of software engineering and system administration, they will probably use that as a way to say "those people do not count".

They will try to have their cake and eat it too, by having claimed that "there is no difference in those ladders" in the past, and then turning around and saying "oh, they are totally different" when it's time to pay out.

I bet the "software engineers in test" (SETs) who have been hired in significant numbers over the past couple of years will also be left out in the cold. They'll probably claim that the "in test" somehow meant they weren't affected by anything which happened. Never mind the fact that a bunch of these people were basically brought on to do SWE work, and the SET designation was just a way to underpay them and/or get around more-stringent hiring requirements for SWEs.

I think some of these companies are going to learn the true meaning of "duck typing" when it comes to hiring and employment practices.

If you're one of these pseudo-SWE types, pay attention to this case as it goes forward. Your company may make some interesting claims about what you supposedly do every day. If it turns out to be false, do something about it.