Usually, the question of whether you have a right to overtime pay is pretty clear. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes a minimum threshold for wage-hour standards that all employers in all states must abide by. These standards generally say that if you are not in a managerial role and you are not making a large salary, then you are entitled to overtime pay if you work more than 40 hours in a week.
“It’s easy to determine if someone has a right to overtime if they are at either end of the employment spectrum,” says Brian Kabateck, a lawyer at Kabateck Brown Kellner. “At one end you have the $10-an-hour employee sitting on a factory line, and at the other end you have the vice president of the corporation.”
But for employees that fall within the middle, the issue of overtime pay can become a gray area. This is especially true for pharmaceutical sales reps, who have a long and inconsistent history within the courts regarding their right to overtime pay.
The Supreme Court is slated to hear a case on this very issue in April. The case, known as Christopher v. GlaxoSmithKline, may determine once and for all whether pharmaceutical sales reps are deserving of overtime pay for putting in work weeks of more than 40 hours.
“We really have no idea how the Supreme Court will rule,” says Jeremy Heisler, a founding partner at Sanford Wittels & Heisler. Heisler represented a class of Novartis sales reps in a similar case, which settled at the end of January for $99 million. “The law is on our side, but the fact remains that courts have reached different decisions on this issue.”
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