Former pharmaceutical representative Jeffrey Bethune has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan
against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, charging the giant drug corporation
with illegally denying him compensation for overtime hours. The law firm of
Joseph, Herzfeld, Hester & Kirschenbaum LLP represents Bethune. The suit
charges that he often worked in excess of 40 hours a week but received an
annual salary without overtime pay. The federal class action was filed on
behalf of Bethune and all other pharma reps who worked for BMS during the last three
years, anywhere in the United
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees
must be paid time-and-a-half overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week,
unless they are specifically exempt.
Attorney Charles Joseph, a partner with Joseph, Herzfeld
Hester & Kirschenbaum LLP, stated, “The US Department of Labor
recognizes that pharmaceutical reps are not exempt from overtime pay,”
adding that the department has filed friend of the court briefs in support of
overtime compensation for pharma reps working more than 40 hours a week.
Joseph explained that the precedent for Bethune’s claim was
set in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which found earlier
this year that Novartis pharma reps were entitled to overtime compensation on
the same grounds alleged against BMS. The Second Circuit issued a similar
ruling in a case brought by pharma reps against Schering Plough, as have
district courts in Connecticut and Illinois in cases against
Boehringer Ingelheim and Abbott.
Bethune, who worked for the company in Oregon
for almost two years, said, “This company has violated the labor law, and will
continue to do so unless it is held accountable by the court.
That is why we have filed this lawsuit.” “Our view
is that Mr. Bethune and other BMS pharmaceutical reps are owed a lot of money
for the often extraordinarily long hours they work with no additional
compensation,” Joseph said. “This is a chance to achieve justice for