Monday, December 17, 2007

Federal probe of Scranton Times-Tribune widens

Former reporters of the Times-Tribune of Scranton have started getting phone calls from U.S. Department of Labor investigators inquiring into how the newspaper handled overtime. Letters had been arriving in mailboxes for a few weeks. The letters, from investigator Joseph Sabol in the department's Scranton office (570-961-2636), begin: "We are making an investigation of this firm to determine if it is complying with the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.... In doing so, it is customary to ask some of the present and former employees for certain information by direct correspondence. The fact that we are asking for this information does not imply that this firm has violated any law."

The letter asks the respondent's duties, regular hours, and place of work. It also asks how often the person worked overtime and whether the person was paid for overtime.

Click above to see scans of the letter.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is one of the reasons why consistently treating people like shit is not a good business practice.
Not a lot of former Times Shamrock employees -- or present ones, for that matter -- will pass up the opportunity to twist the knife and cost their tormentors a few bucks.
Your responses to the Department of Labor are confidential.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous knife-twisting? Where does the line form?

Anonymous said...

Holiday greetings:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/breakingnews/Scranton_newspaper_being_investigated_by_federal_government.html

Ed C. trampled on people like human garbage, then pissed on their graves by calling them dead weight.

Maybe all that will get repeated on the stand someday.

NEVER SURRENDER!

Anonymous said...

p.s., if that link doesn't work, check out Times Leader Web site to see today's brief (12/17) on the investigation. Short, sweet and more to come.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does anyone think the Scranton paper should be covering this, too?

Anonymous said...

Sure TT should cover it, and here's how: They should march into 4:30 meeting and have Biz Editor Steve Daily assign it to his top reporter, Jeff Sonderman. Oh, wait a minute, that won't work. Maybe Birk could handle it. Well, maybe Ed C. will simply put "his best people" on it. Hmm. Still not right.

Anonymous said...

5 words: Don't sh*t where you eat.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was don't eat where you shit....and only an idiot would eat at that place.

Anonymous said...

I recall this happening at another newspaper (not a local one). It was only one guy involved. As I recall, he won his suit. Then the paper adopted a policy of having security show up at his desk every day at 5 p.m. to escort him from the building to be certain he didn't log any additional overtime.

Interesting story on overtime and reporters as "professionals":
http://www.allbusiness.com/services/business-services-miscellaneous-business/4724631-1.html

I'm torn, personally.

On the one hand, I never even considered asking for overtime as a reporter. You covered what needed covering. Some days it was an 18 hour plus job, but that's just the kind of job it was. And it's not the kind of work you generally leave at the office.

On the other hand, if management isn't appreciative of that, or if they repeatedly mandated overtime, then I'd probably get pissy and start demanding extra pay or organized comp time too. (My editors and publishers were always pretty cool about comp time, though i never got a penny of overtime.)

Anonymous said...

Times Shamrock still routinely reports on NEPA radio news without disclosing their ownership interest...and they've been way behind the TL in reporting on their libel fiasco...so I'm not surprised that they'd take a pass on their little wage-and-hours problem.

Anonymous said...

"""On the other hand, if management isn't appreciative of that"""

Bingo. If you treat people like shit when they're working extra hours, it will come back to bite you. Hello, Murph.

Anonymous said...

I've done overtime with The Wiz and never got a penny.

Anonymous said...

One time I didn't work on a holiday at the TT and got paid for it anyway. I never told anyone, I just kept the cash. Double time - lot's of dough.

In the interest of fairness should I respond to the investigator? I'm very torn.

Anonymous said...

Someone really needs to explain this idea of "Even if it is wrong, it's that way because that is the way it always has been so that is the way it always should be."

Anonymous said...

There was this other time when I worked at the TT, it was a Sunday, no one else was in the office. I came in late AND I left early. I got paid for 7 1/2 hours but I only worked four. I think I filed a story about a minor fender-bender that day. Claimed I spent a few hours on beat notes too. Should I turn myself in?

Really. I'm not condoning anything, I'm just trying to be sure I never took advantage of the company. Can someone offer legitimate ethics standards here? I fear that my sneaking a few minutes here and there added up to hours, maybe days, when the OT I put in for (and was paid for) amounted to a few hours a year.

This is so complicated. There was that one page one series I worked on. I put a few extra hours in on that, but never asked for any extra cash. Should I rat them out now? After all, they should have known I worked overtime even though I didn't tell them.

Sorry, it is all so confusing. Is anyone saying they actually submitted overtime forms that were denied? If so, that person would have a great case. If not, they're like me. Wondering what to do.

Damn life is hard.

Patty O'Furniture said...

Hey 7:36.. One time at band camp, the girl who's flute was busy had her douche bag burst..Thats the grease the silences the wheels. Screw the Times/Shamcock.

Anonymous said...

When one is unaware he is the exception rather than the rule it is easy to imagine that everyone receives equal treatment. Especially those who did work more than fifty hours per week, not just the one or two who occasionally worked more than his seven-point-five-hour shift.

Anonymous said...

Here's why this inquiry isn't going to go far. There are no e-mails out there from Larry Beaupre saying "George, I am not paying you for the hours you worked despite your request." Instead, everyone has 100 e-mails like this real message from my files:

------ Original Message ------
From: John Murphy jmurphy@timesshamrock.com
Date: redacted 5:02 PM EDT
To: redacted-redacted@timesshamrock.com
Subject: overtime request

[Name redacted]:

Please see me ASAP on your overtime request for Sept. XX. I will be out of town most of the day Thursday (Oct. XX) but I expect to be in all day Friday. Let me know when you plan to stop by.

-- John Murphy

Anonymous said...

Followed by this message:

------ Original Message ------
From: John Murphy jmurphy@timesshamrock.com
[date redacted] 7:49 AM EDT
To: [name redacted]
Subject: meeting

[Name redacted]:

I sent you an e-mail earlier this week asking to you see me to discuss your latest overtime request. Did you receive it? I expect to be in the office all day today. See me ASAP.

-- John Murphy

Anonymous said...

Could one of you clowns direct me to the Northeast PA media news blog?

Anonymous said...

Clowns? No, the clowns can't direct you there. Find it yourself asshat.

tired of the crap said...

There is a TL story that quotes former TT staffer Sarah Molina alleging she worked 14-hour days and did not put in for OT because she said she knew she wasn't going to get it.
Maybe this excerpt from a 2,510-word post on her myspace blog, dated July 16, will explain why:

"Damn ... 40 of you ... It took me my entire cops shift to finish this. In summation, you are the 40 people I love and treasure the most in MySpace land Consider yourself privileged! I consider myself the same just to know and get to love all of you."

Looks like she was blowing a lot of TT money managing her social life. Speaks volumes about her character to turn around and lie to the TL just because she was held to a professional standard at the TT, a standard she obviously could not meet.

Anonymous said...

""""At the Times-Tribune, editors are responsible for keeping track of employees� hours, she said.""""

This is fucked, and by itself a reason to be suspicious of Beaupre's claims. Why don't we let people fill out their own time cards like the rest of the free world? Do you really expect the overloaded overstressed metro desk (except for Kelly) to keep track of everybody's hours. Why do it that way except to control the paper trail?
OK, so Sarah says she was told point-blank that there's no OT. If she told the Dept. of Labor who told her that, then it's katy-bar-the-door. The game is on.

Anonymous said...

At the Voice, reporters regularly work overtime without compensation. They're either afraid to turn it in or they just like sucking up to management. Either way, the feds will be taking a hard look at the CV next. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

""""At the Times-Tribune, editors are responsible for keeping track of employees� hours, she said.""""

That it total BS. That is not the policy at TT. Reporters can work less than 37.5 hours and editors would not have a clue.

Anonymous said...

-----Reporters can work less than 37.5 hours and editors would not have a clue.------

YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN

Anonymous said...

Labor laws are complicated and vary from state to state. If you are required to complete a time card or "swipe in " you are a non exempt employee subject to overtime or compensation at time and a half hours. This is the employees not the employers choice. If you are exempt or salaried employee then you can work a 20 hour week and it should not impact your salary.
Of course unions have impacted the exempt non exempt issue.
If you are foolish enough to work 18 hours a shift with the overtime uncompensated then go ahead. It is no sweat off the Lynett's pampered brows. They'll email you from Australia and question your loyalty.
Workers of NEPA unite.

Anonymous said...

Your ign'ance shows.