Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SCOTUS Denies Cert in Novartis FLSA Case

Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied certiorari (i.e. will not hear the case) in Novartis v. Lopes (click link for SCOTUSBlog coverage). The case would have resolved a circuit split regarding FLSA exemptions for pharmaceutical sales representatives. Specifically:
Whether . . . highly paid pharmaceutical sales representatives are [] covered by the FLSA’s administrative exemption . . . or the outside sales exemption.
See Novartis Petition. The Second Circuit from which this case arose held that the exceptions were inapplicable.

For my Pennsylvania readers, the circuit split arises from a previous ruling by our own Third Circuit, holding that the administrative exemption did apply to these reps. The SCOTUS case may also have resolved an issue regarding how much deference to afford an amicus brief from the Department of Labor.

I always appreciate a good FLSA case, so I'm a little disappointed that the Court won't hear this one. The FLSA casts broad exemptions that, as attorneys, we are expected to apply to almost any occupation one can think of. The more Supreme guidance, the better the employer's chances are of getting it right. I guess we'll have to wait for another case to come along.

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.