Friday, December 21, 2007, 1:49 PM

Class Certification Denied for Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceutical Sales Reps Suing for FLSA Overtime Violations

A U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey denied the request of plaintiff Sanofi-Aventis pharmaceutical sales representatives to certify their unpaid overtime claims at the notice phase of their FLSA case. While the judge indicated that the standard during the notice stage of a FLSA case is "fairly lenient", the judge felt that standard was not met by the plaintiffs who did not show that all sales representatives were "similarly situated" under the overtime wage exemptions of the FLSA. Denials of certification have been fairly rare in recent months.

The judge reiterated that certification was not "automatic" and "substantial allegations", not mere assertions of similarity, were needed to achieve class certification. Job duties differed in the court's opinion as to the representatives depending on what products they sold for Sanofi. At this stage, the denial has two major impacts: (1) the statute of limitation for potential class members continues to run; the statute of limitations would have been tolled by certification; and (2) plaintiffs cannot send notice to putative class members.

The judge further assisted Sanofi by granting its motion to strike the plaintiffs' state law class allegations finding a conflict if the court were to hear both claims because of the different opt-out procedures under New Jersey law and the opt-in procedures of the FLSA. This ruling is obviously in contrast to the recent Hoffman La-Roche decision discussed yesterday. Several other pharmaceutical companies are facing similar FLSA cases at present: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Eil Lilly, Hoffman La-Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, and Boehringer-Ingelheim.

To read the Employment Law 360 article on this rare denial, click here.


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