A judge resolved an overtime dispute for NBC TV news workers, noting the irony of journalists boasting they do nothing special and their employer insisting they are too good to be paid more.Employees of NBC, now a unit of General Electric Co., sought in a 1985 lawsuit to qualify for more overtime under federal laws. Magistrate Judge Kathleen A. Roberts, in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, found NBC had improperly calculated overtime for some employees, although not willfully, before recently changing its formula. To reach that conclusion, she had to agree that the jobs were not professional in nature and were not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that established many key overtime rules. Employees of NBC’s news division and members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians, a part of the AFL-CIO, argued that their jobs were “routine” and “mechanical” rather than “talent of the highest degree,” as the network claimed, in order to get more overtime. Most of the employees involved in the suit have since settled with NBC or have had their cases dismissed for failing to follow court procedures.
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