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U.S. Supreme Court holds that pharmaceutical representatives are not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act

On Monday, a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court held that Glaxo drug reps who call on doctors to secure their commitment to prescribe more Glaxo drugs are not entitled to overtime pay.  The holding overturns a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  The latter court had refused to grant Glaxo an exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act that applies to "outside sales personnel."  The Second Circuit had pointed out that since the drug reps do not actually sell drugs to doctors, and merely "educate" them, they simply did not qualify as exempt "sales personnel."

Justice Samuel Alito, a Bush appointee, wrote the majority opinion which was signed by five Republican appointees.  One Republican appointee and the three Justices appointed by Democratic Presidents all dissented from the decision and would have upheld the Second Circuit's ruling.

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