On June 18 the Supreme Court put to rest a long-simmering controversy over whether pharmaceutical sales representatives – the people who try to convince doctors to prescribe their employer's drugs – are “ouside salesmen” for purposes of the FLSA. If they are, they get no overtime no matter how many hours they work each week. If not, they are entitled to overtime. It's a simple question with big dollar implications. And it split the lower courts.
Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. is the Supreme Court's resolution of the conflict. This morning the sales reps are wearing frowns, while pharma executives are smiling. No overtime is now the law of the land. Click the link if you want to read the complete decision.
But before you non-lawyers dive into the opinions, a warning. This is one of the most boring set of opinions I have ever read. Just trust me on the outcome of the case. It's really all you need to know.
How boring? Parents, if you're trying to dissuade a youngster from applying to law school, have them read this case first. Your job will be done for you.
Against the possibility that some day I may have to argue before the Supremes, a disclaimer directed to Justice Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Breyer, who wrote the dissent. I know that you were just doing your jobs, and you have no choice but to work with the facts and theories of the case. In fact, having spent a couple of years as a federal law clerk a few decades back, I'm pretty sure that this was (at least) as painful to write as it is to read. So no disrespect is intended. I'm just trying to provide a small service for my readers.
Fortunately, I'm going on vacation tomorrow and won't have to think about the FLSA for the next 10 days.