Pharmaceutical Companies Face Overtime Pay Suits

December 1, 2006 ( - Lawsuits have been filed against eight major pharmaceutical companies charging them with failure to pay overtime wages to pharmaceutical representatives in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state labor laws.

According to a press release lawsuits were filed in state and federal courts in New York, New Jersey and California against drug giants AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Hoffman Laroche, GlaxoSmithKline, and Bayer. The lawsuits, each filed on behalf of a class of current and former employees, allege that the companies unlawfully characterize these representatives as “exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal and state labor laws in order to deprive them of overtime pay.

“Our lawsuit alleges that although the drug companies classified these representatives as exempt, depriving them of overtime compensation, they are not exempt under federal and state laws,” explained Charles Joseph of Joseph & Herzfeld, LLP, one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs, in the release. “Although the companies have claimed that the representatives are salespersons and therefore not protected by the overtime laws, they actually don’t sell anything.”

The companies operate in all fifty states and employ more than half a million workers, therefore the proposed classes in the combined lawsuits include tens of thousands of pharmaceutical representatives throughout the US, the release said. Eric Kingsley of Kingsley & Kingsley, another firm representing the plaintiffs, said the pharmaceutical reps usually worked 55-60 hours a week or more, and the lawsuits claim their employers tried to avoid paying overtime wages by giving them fancy sounding titles.

The suits seek overtime pay to eligible employees as well as compensation and damages to current and former employees who were denied overtime.

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