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We typically post about product liability (and mass tort) issues affecting pharmaceutical and medical device companies. But we’re taking a short detour today simply to note that pharmaceutical companies are now facing another litigation threat: overtime wage cases.

Since September 2006, a consortium of law firms that includes Kingsley & Kingsley, APC; Spiro Moss Barness & Barge, LLP; and Joseph & Herzfeld, LLP has filed similar overtime class and collective actions against ten different pharmaceutical companies. The companies that have been sued to date are Amgen, Inc.; Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals, L.P.; Bayer Corp.; Boehringer-Ingelheim Corp.; Eli Lilly, & Co.; GlaxoSmithKline, PLC; Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Pfizer, Inc.; and Sanofi-Aventis U.S., Inc.

Plaintiffs’ claim in these cases is that the defendant erroneously classified pharmaceutical sales representatives as exempt from federal or state overtime requirements. Plaintiffs assert that these sales reps do not meet the requirements of any exemption under federal or state law. In a recent press release, for example, plaintiffs’ counsel argued that pharmaceutical sales representatives do not qualify for an outside sales exemption because their “work is promotional — they don’t actually sell anything.” Counsel also contended that sales representatives do not qualify for the administrative exemption, which requires that the employee exercise discretion and independent judgment, because they lack autonomy in their work.

We probably won’t be posting on this again, because labor law is too far removed from the topic of this blog. But we’re figured that pharmaceutical companies (and lawyers representing them) who weren’t already involved in this fray would be curious to hear about this.

So stay tuned, but not to this channel. You’ll surely be reading more about this elsewhere in the future.