Archive for February, 2011

A federal appeals court last July ruled Novartis reps are not exempt from overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and, therefore, should be paid overtime. The same court also upheld a similar decision reached two years ago against Schering-Plough by a federal court, which denied a motion to dismiss a case brought against the drugmaker by some of its sales reps.

The decision against Novartis and Schering-Plough was made by the Second Circuit, which presides over territory where other lawsuits have been filed against Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories and Bristol-Myers Squibb. As a result, the Supreme Court decision suggests that sales reps are likely to win their cases in these jurisdictions. However, this will not effect, for now, a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit, which ruled in favor of Glaxo that sales reps do not qualify for overtime pay.

The Second Circuit found that sales reps are not exempt from overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA’s overtime compensation requirement doesn’t apply to employees who work as outside salespeople, but the law does require employers to pay overtime for hours worked beyond 40 hours a week, unless a FLSA exemption applies.

Drugmakers argue their sales reps are, indeed, outside salespeople who close sales because the primary customer is the physician. But in 2009, the US Department of Labor added an unexpected twist to the debate by filing an amicus brief with a federal appeals court contending that a lower court was wrong to toss their lawsuit.

So if you have worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, you may be entitled to be paid overtime, but don’t delay, since typically you can only seek overtime up to three years from the date you file your lawsuit. For analysis of any of your overtime claims, feel free to contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm which has extensive experience in litigation of overtime claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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Many of you man know that if you your employer has at least 50 employees and you have been a full time employee of the employer for 12 months that you may be entitled to Family Medical Leave Act leave in the event of your serious health condition or that of one of your relatives. A new Federal Court opinion has indicated that an employee may not only take that FMLA leave, but should not be pestered about when they will return to work.

A U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas opinion dismissed Howard Memorial Hospital’s motion for summary judgment and concluded that a jury should be presented with the Family and Medical Leave Act interference claim made by a hospital employee who said she felt pressured to return to work during her medical leave.

In the case, Regina Terwilliger, a former Howard Memorial Hospital housekeeper, claims that her supervisor contacted her on a weekly basis to ask when she would return to work after undergoing back surgery. One pivotal phone conversation revolved around Terwilliger’s work status, with the housekeeper asking if she was at risk of losing her job while she was at home recovering. During that conversation, Terwilliger’s supervisor responded to her questions by saying that she should return to work “as soon as possible.” Terwilliger decided to cut her medical leave short and returned to work a week early. A few weeks after returning to work, the hospital fired Terwilliger, alleging she stole from another hospital employee. Terwilliger says she was fired for taking FMLA leave and asserts that the hospital deprived her of the act’s full benefits by pressuring her to return to work early.

“Interference includes discouraging an employee from using FMLA leave,” the district court wrote.

If you have questions about your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA, call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act not only applies to employees who are disabled, but also has provisions to apply to public accommodations.

Disneyland is facing a lawsuit for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act due to a mishap on the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride.

The lawsuit was filed by a quadriplegic man that said he was stranded by Disneyland employees for 40 minutes after the ride broke down. Jose Martinez said that both he and his wife were left on the ride whilst all the other passengers had been evacuated.

During the ordeal Martinez suffered dysreflexia, which is a condition that affects the nervous system as a result of overstimulation. In severe cases it can cause stroke or even death. He said that despite his requests for medical attention, he received none and employees didn’t help to get him off of the ride.

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So today’s posting does not directly address employment issues but it does address issues under Florida Statutes, the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The issue today relates to disabled persons use of service dogs.

It has come to my attention that in many states, condo associations are giving hard times to disabled persons who have service dogs, especially where the association has no pet rules. Florida Statutes 413.08.  Under the Florida Statutes, at subsection (2) An individual with a disability is entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges in all public accommodations.  Moreover, under subsection (3) An individual with a disability has the right to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas of a public accommodation that the public or customers are normally permitted to occupy.  It is interesting to note also that the statute mandates that an association may not charge a surcharge or pet deposit for a service dog even if normally charged for a pet.
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The Florida Senate and new Florida Gov Rick Scott are now seeking to restrict unemployment benefits to employees calling some recipients of these benefits “slackers and malingerers.”

State Sen. Nancy Detert, filed a bill Monday that would tighten unemployment eligibility, make it easier for businesses to deny benefits and push laid-off workers to take lower-paying jobs after they have received 12 weeks of payments.

The bill would also reduce benefits for workers who’d received severance packages and require first-time claimants to complete a workplace-skills test within 14 days of filing for benefits.

Detert, R-Venice, chairs the Senate’s Commerce and Tourism Committee.
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