Case Detail

Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham
On June 18, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to accord binding deference to the Department of Labor’s recent “reinterpretation” of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) “outside sales” exemption. That interpretation, which the Secretary of Labor first announced in a 2009 amicus brief, would have required the nation’s more than 90,000 pharmaceutical sales representatives to be reclassified overnight as overtime-eligible employees under the FLSA. The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed a brief in the case arguing that the Department of Labor’s novel interpretation contradicted the Department’s own regulatory and interpretative guidance to the contrary for more than seventy years. In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court held that binding deference is inappropriate where an agency’s new interpretation is inconsistent with the applicable statute and implementing regulation, and where the agency has long acquiesced to the regulated industry’s decades-long practice.
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More Information and Downloads:
3/26/2012: Download the Brief

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