Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham
On June 18, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bancroft client GlaxoSmithKline in Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham, 132 S. Ct. 2156 (2012). Bancroft partner Paul D. Clement argued the case on GlaxoSmithKline’s behalf on April 16, 2012. By a 5-4 vote, the Court held that pharmaceutical sales representatives are covered by the “outside salesman” exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act. This decision will likely result in the dismissal of dozens of class action lawsuits seeking to challenge pharmaceutical companies’ reliance on the outside sales exemption.
Bancroft also argued more broadly that the Supreme Court should overrule Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997), which holds that administrative agencies’ interpretations of their own regulations are entitled to deference. The Supreme Court did not address that issue in Christopher because it found that the agency’s interpretation of the outside sales exemption was incorrect under any possible standard of review. But the Court recently suggested in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, 133 S. Ct. 1326 (2013), that it would be open to reconsidering the Auer doctrine in an appropriate case.
Bancroft lawyers Paul D. Clement, Jeffrey M. Harris, and Stephen V. Potenza worked on the case.