The U.S. Supreme Court in April will review a case known as Christopher v. GlaxoSmithKline to determine if pharmaceutical sales representatives are exempt from overtime pay because they are outside salespeople, a category defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 as exempt.

In Christopher v. GlaxoSmithKline, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court's ruling that pharma reps are subject to the outside sales representative provision that exempts them from overtime pay. The plaintiffs had argued that they are more like marketers or public relations representatives because they merely dispense product samples to doctors in hopes they prescribe the products to their patients.

The circuit court, however, pointed to GlaxoSmithKline's job description that requires both sales training and sales experience as prerequisites for the job of pharmaceutical sales representative.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued interpretations siding with the arguments forwarded by the plaintiffs that they are not sales representatives but just product distributors, who are thus due overtime pay.

SCOTUS will now have the final say.