Thousands of pharmaceutical sales reps have filed a series of class action lawsuit claims against their former employers seeking tens of millions of dollars in back pay.
The claims were filed in New York, California, New Jersey and Connecticut on behalf of reps from across the country seeking overtime wages dating back two to six years, under federal and state statutes of limitations.
The companies affected are Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Hoffmann-La Roche, Bayer and Boehringer Ingelheim.
One former Lilly rep interviewed by the Associated Press said she quit after 18 years because her job encroached on weekends and vacations.
Another plaintiff, a 20-year Pfizer veteran, said the overtime requirements were “unfair” and that her boss said she “needed to be engaged in business 24/7.”
A Pfizer spokesman said in published reports the company would contest the lawsuit.
Under federal labor law, outside sales forces can be exempt from overtime pay. The plaintiffs argue that they don't qualify as sales reps because the doctors they visit aren't actually buying anything from them, said Charles Joseph, an attorney for the workers told The New York Times. Drug company executives denied the arguments in published reports. The overtime cases have all been moved to federal courts.