California Supreme Court Refuses to Say Whether Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives are Exempt


In connection with its review of a federal district court decision in D'Este v. Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified two important questions to the Supreme Court of California, the answers to which could resolve several pending putative wage-hour class actions against pharmaceutical companies involving the exempt classification of their sales representatives. However, on June 10, 2009, the Supreme Court of California summarily denied the Ninth Circuit's request:

The request, made pursuant to California Rules of Court, Rule 8.548, that this court decide a question of California law presented in a matter pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is denied. (See Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co., 20 Cal. 4th 785 (1999).)

It appears from the Supreme Court's summary denial of the Ninth Circuit's request, and its citation to its prior decision in Ramirez, that it believes it already answered the two certified questions in its Ramirez decision. In Ramirez, the court noted that "whether Ramirez was an outside salesperson within the meaning of applicable statutes and regulations is, like other questions involving the application of legal categories, a mixed question of law and fact." 20 Cal. 4th at 794. Indeed, "the predominant controversy" before the Court in Ramirez was "the precise meaning of the term 'outside salesperson,' a question of law."

Please see full ASAP for more information.

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