NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Just weeks after winning preliminary approval of a 99 million dollar settlement on behalf of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Sales Representatives, Attorneys from Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP today filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of four former Sales Representatives and other similarly-situated employees at LEO Pharma Inc. The suit details the foreign pharmaceutical company's denial of the reps' basic overtime pay and other wage and hour practices that violate the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state overtime laws in New York, California and Washington.
"LEO Pharma willfully misclassifies its sales representatives as exempt from the benefits of federal and state wage and hour laws," said Deborah Marcuse, an attorney at Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP (SWH) who represents the four named plaintiffs and the class. "The LEO reps worked well over 40 hours per week but have not received any overtime pay. Their misclassification deprives them of the overtime pay and other work-related benefits to which they are legally entitled. Such egregious practices allow the company to enrich its bottom line at the expense of the economic wellbeing of its sales force, which is intolerable."
Steven Wittels, Jeremy Heisler and Deborah Marcuse in SWH's New York City office and David W. Sanford, in the Firm's Washington, D.C., office represent the plaintiffs and the class.
Lori Hoel, Shuntel Blount, Lisa Borden and Mitra Mottaghian are the plaintiffs and class representatives in the matter. Each plaintiff seeks to represent all LEO Pharma sales reps in the federal collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and Ms. Hoel, Ms. Blount and Ms. Mottaghian each seek to represent class members under the state laws of California, Washington and New York, respectively.
According to the complaint, LEO Pharma improperly classifies its non-exempt sales representatives as salaried exempt employees and denies them overtime pay, even though these employees regularly perform non-exempt duties. Because of the misclassification, the company does not pay these or similarly situated employees for the hours they work in excess of 40 hours of week at the required rate of time and a half.
"LEO Pharma has not made a good faith effort to comply with Fair Labor Standards Act or with the comparable state laws that protect workers' rights," said Mr Heisler. "In today's depressed economic climate, this is not only illegal, but unconscionable."
The four plaintiffs seek to represent every person who works or who has worked as a full-time Sales Representative for LEO Pharma for at least one day in any U.S. state or territory between February 7, 2009, and the present.
"These companies need to get the message that they cannot cultivate their profits at the expense of the basic rights of their workforce," explained Mr. Wittels. "At a time when working people are struggling to support their families, it becomes all the more important to stand up and insist that corporations do the right thing for their employees by paying them in accordance with federal and state laws."
LEO Pharma, which is incorporated in Pennsylvania and headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ballerup, enmark-based LEO Pharma A/S. The company specializes in dermatology and critical products for the health care industry. It reported an after-tax profit in 2010 of DKK 699.6 million.
About Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP
Sanford Wittels & Heisler is a law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam and consumer actions and complex corporate class action litigation and has represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States. The firm also represents individual clients in employment, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury matters. In May 2010, the firm won the largest jury award in the U.S. in a gender discrimination employment class action when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. On January 25, 2012, SWH won preliminary court approval to settle a wage and hour case on behalf of Reps employed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $99 million. For more information,contact Sanford Wittels & Heisler at (202) 742-7777.