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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Pharmaceutical Sales Reps Are Entitled to OT Pay

Posted Nov 28, 2011 11:05 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether pharmaceutical sales representatives are entitled to overtime pay in a case that could affect up to 90,000 workers in rep jobs for the industry.

At issue is whether the pharmaceutical reps are outside salespersons who are not entitled to overtime under an exception to pay requirements. The cert petition (PDF posted by SCOTUSblog) argues that pharmaceutical sales reps who promote products, rather than selling them, are not outside salespersons within the meaning of federal labor law.

“A PSR’s role is to promote pharmaceuticals to physicians in an effort to influence their prescribing habits,” the cert petition says. “In furtherance of this goal, PSRs visit physicians’ offices, seek out opportunities to promote the employer’s products by discussing the products with physicians, provide samples of the products to physicians, and sometimes ask physicians for non-binding ‘commitments’ to prescribe the products where medically appropriate.”

The cert petition was filed on behalf of two former drug reps for GlaxoSmithKline who claim in a class action lawsuit that they worked an extra 10 to 20 hours a week, but they received no extra pay, the Associated Press reports.

The U.S. Department of Labor has supported the pharmaceutical reps, Dow Jones Newswires reports. The case is Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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