Monday, January 01, 2007

Drug Rep: I'm Suing

A six-figure salary, free dinners, company car and a paid cell phone is not enough for some. Namely, Susan Schaefer LaRose, a former sales rep for drug giant Eli Lilly is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation for 18 years worth of unpaid overtime.

She was never promised overtime and it was clearly spelled out that because of the unique style of pharamaceutical sales tactics. overtime would not be compensated.

The lawsuits, filed in New York, California, New Jersey and Connecticut, are the latest in a series of mass tort claims seeking overtime pay from U.S. businesses in recent years.The pharmaceutical company lawsuits seek overtime wages dating back two to six years, under federal and state statutes of limitations. Other companies affected are Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., AstraZeneca PLC, Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Amgen Inc., Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Bayer AG.Schaefer LaRose said her 45-hour work weeks began lengthening as cell phones and e-mail became more prevalent."Those things were supposed to simplify our lives. They didn't," Schaefer LaRose said.

Anthony DeMeis, a co-founder of the Pharmaceutical Representative Society of New York, said it was unfortunate that some people are looking for ways to get more money from their employers. He said he doesn't know of many other jobs that offer college grads $60,000 to $80,000 a year with a free car and free cell phone.

"Everyone I know who does their job well works 60 or more hours a week," DeMeis said. "The harder you work, the more work you make for yourself. I think they're getting paid for overtime, through the bonuses they're getting."

Wow, we're not sure what to say about this. How many times did LaRose use her cell phone for personal calls? How about her corporate card and her generous bonuses? At a time when drug companies are criticized by the public the pharmaceuticalreps are being shunned by the docs, this disgruntled employee has a lot of moxie to think a jury will have a sympathetic ear to her pseudo-plight. Wining and dining a bunch of doctors is not like working in the mines or even toiling over hours of code (a similar lawsuit was won by IBM IT staff). It is known to be a social occupation in which employees tend to work hard and play hard. It is no secret that these reps are as much social event planners as they are purveyors of medication knowledge. The qualifications for the job are not steep and the most social of the bunch inevitably surpass their colleagues who would rather spend time at home. If this was a problem for her, why did she continue her job for 18 years? Regardless of the merit of the case, it is nice to be writing about a drug company being sued, rather than doctor.

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