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Supreme Court to Determine Whether Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives Are Entitled to Overtime Pay

By Michael Arnold

The United States Supreme Court will determine whether pharmaceutical sales representatives qualify as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s outside salesperson exemption.  In doing so, the Supreme Court will resolve a split between the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals (and numerous other district courts over this issue).  More specifically, as we wrote about here, last year the Second Circuit found that the FLSA does not exempt pharmaceutical sales representatives from its overtime obligations; recently, the Ninth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion. 

The Supreme Court’s decision will be important in two respects.  First, it would affect the 60,000-90,000 sales representatives believed to be employed industry-wide.  Second, and perhaps more importantly to employers generally, the Court will also rule on the level of deference a court must provide to a Department of Labor interpretation of its own FLSA regulation.

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Martha Zackin