Novartis agreed to pay $99 million to settle the claims of a class of its pharmaceutical sales representatives ("pharma reps") who alleged that they were denied overtime pay. See In re Novartis Wage & Hour Litig., No. 06 md 01784 (S.D.N.Y.). District Judge Paul Crotty of the Southern District of New York gave preliminary approval to the proposed settlement on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. The final approval hearing will take place on May 31, 2012.
On December 20, 2011, we reported here about developments in a variety of overtime cases involving audit associates at Big Four accountant firms, including a recent conditional certification of a collective action against Deloitte (our firm is co-counsel in that matter, http://www.deloitteovertimelawsuit.com/).
The Big Four accounting firms in the U.S. - KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Ernst & Young - retain cadres of unlicensed employees who work in high-pressure, entry-level positions variously titled "Associate," "Audit Associate," "Audit Assistant," "Advisory Associate," and "Unlicensed Associate." Their task is to execute transactions that are essentially rote and clerical. Yet the Big Four routinely classify these employees as "professional" or "administrative" to exempt them from overtime requirements under federal (Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA) and state law.
A recent case out of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, Raniere v. Citigroup Inc., No. 11 Civ. 2448, 2011 WL 5881926 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 22, 2011), holds that FLSA collective action waivers are unenforceable--as a matter of law. This a groundbreaking decision that offers a roadmap for defeating collective action waivers in the wake of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011).