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Bristol-Myers Squibb Sued For Denying Employees Overtime Pay

NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Former pharmaceutical representative Jeffrey Bethune today filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS), 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 States.

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 and Washington 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 BMS reps."

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