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Hundreds Join Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Overtime Lawsuit

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Washington, DCThe potential for retroactive overtime for individuals working in pharmaceutical sales has moved that much closer to reality with a formal request from plaintiffs to certify their pharma rep overtime lawsuit as a class action in New York, California and Illinois.

According to blogger Jim Edwards writing June 13 on BNET, hundreds of sales reps have signed on, and more are expected. Many are former employees of Pfizer, who were laid off following Pfizer's acquisition of Wyeth.

And the issue of overtime for pharmaceuticals sales jobs is spurring much debate, according to various entries in chatrooms revealed by Edwards. One contributor felt that pharmaceutical sales reps knew the score when going in, as it were. Because they weren't required to punch a time clock and knew what the job entailed before they were hired, a request for retroactive overtime is unfounded.

Others disagree, as is evidenced by this entry:

"Many of us worked in the field, as required by management, from 8-5 and then went home to do required computer work. My managers always told us to never do expense reports, call reports or any other administrative work in our office. This work was to be done after field hours (8am to 5pm). Many times we worked nights doing programs and weekends with no pay."

The original lawsuit suggesting that a pharmaceutical sales salary should qualify for overtime pay was launched in 2006 by plaintiff Anthony Coultrip. Pfizer attempted to have the case dismissed in 2008, but lost the motion. This past March, according to Edwards, the US Supreme Court refused to hear a similar case, paving the way for the original lawsuit to continue, and assuming an interpretation of overtime laws and exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act pertaining to overtime for sales reps, pursuant to interpretations of individual exemptions for various jurisdictions of sales reps.

Industry watchers expect more job cuts by Pfizer as the drug giant continues to consolidate its operations following the Wyeth acquisition in 2009, and wonder if a pending class-action lawsuit may foster even more.

It was noted that most of those individuals signing on for the class no longer work for Pfizer due to layoff. However, those reps currently employed in pharmaceutical sales employment with Pfizer would be well advised to be cognizant of a public document that reveals all names of class participants. Edwards wonders if there could be retaliation—although illegal—against current sales reps that join the class.


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