Novo Nordisk sued by US reps for overtime

 Novo Nordisk is facing a $70m lawsuit on behalf of its US drug sales force, claiming back payments for overtime.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two plaintiffs and a class of sales representatives, alleges that the Danish company is in breach of New York and federal law.

According to law firm Sanford Wittels & Heisler (SWH), the company requires its sales force to work more than 40 hours per week while incorrectly classifying them as ineligible for overtime payments.

Novo Nordisk, a world-leading supplier of diabetes care products, reported a net profit of $3.04bn for 2011 – an 18% increase from 2010, the law firm claims.

The two plaintiffs are pharmaceutical sales representatives based in New Jersey and Texas who are claiming back payment for overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or the New York State overtime laws.

The class action lawsuit identifies two classes: the FSLA class includes all Novo Nordisk sales reps employed in the US since March 2009, while the New York State law class includes all sales reps who have worked for the company in New York between March 2006 and the present (unless they opt out of the action).

SWH attorney Steven L. Wittels stated that Novo Nordisk “misclassifies its sales representatives as salaried employees exempt from the benefits of federal and state overtime laws, when in fact, they are not exempt at all.”

This lawsuit follows a similar claim against Novo Nordisk filed in California in July 2011 on behalf of drug sales reps.

A number of major pharmaceutical companies have recently been sued by sales professionals for back overtime pay. While Bayer, Roche and Wyeth have won their respective cases, Novartis has lost.