On June 18, 2012 the Supreme Court announced its decision in Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. This case presented two questions: first, whether courts must defer to the Department of Labor’s interpretation of its regulations addressing the “outside salesman” exemption from the overtime requirements imposed on employers by the Fair Labor Standards Act; and second, whether pharmaceutical sales representatives, who cannot themselves sell prescription drugs, are considered “outside salesmen” and thus not entitled to overtime pay under the Act.
By a vote of 5-4, the Court declined to defer to the Department of Labor regulations and held that the pharmaceutical sales representatives qualify as “outside salesmen” under the the Department of Labor’s regulations and thus are not entitled to overtime pay. Justice Alito delivered the majority opinion, which was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan.
To discuss the case, we have Anthony “Tom” Caso, who is an Associate Professor at Chapman University School of Law.