This is a cross-post from Regs Talk, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) blog. Catherine Ruckelshaus is the legal co-director of NELP.
Big drug companies’ salespeople don’t usually inspire much sympathy for being overworked or exploited. But last week’s Supreme Court decision in Christopher v. GlaxoSmithKline was a reminder that even pharmaceutical sales representatives, who brought a case for working 60-odd hours a week without being paid overtime, can face unfair working conditions that need to be checked.
This week marks the 74th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which established a minimum wage floor, outlawed some forms of child labor and discouraged overly long workweeks by requiring premium pay for any hours worked over 40 in a week. By paying time-and-a-half of one’s regular hourly wage for overtime, the policy is intended not only to compensate workers for long hours but also to promote work sharing or spreading by employers, who can hire additional workers for the extra hours needed. Especially in tough economic times, it’s a practice that is not only fair but makes good economic sense.