Supreme Court Affirms That FLSA 'Outside Salesperson' Exemption Includes Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives

Author:Ms Lauren Fox
Profession:Blank Rome LLP

The Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion today in Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., affirming, in a 5-4 decision, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's holding that SmithKline Beecham does not have to pay overtime to its pharmaceutical sales representatives. The Supreme Court found that pharmaceutical sales representatives, who visit doctors' offices to discuss pharmaceutical products and obtain nonbinding commitments to prescribe those pharmaceuticals, are "outsides sales people" exempt from the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA").

The FLSA generally requires employers to pay employees overtime pay, but includes limited exemptions for certain employee classifications, including "outside salesmen." In Christopher, the Court analyzed whether pharmaceutical sales representatives made sales within the meaning of the FLSA or merely promoted products to doctors. The Court, rejecting the Department of Labor's narrow interpretation of the exemption as...

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