Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives File $70 Million Wage and Hour Class Action Against Danish Pharma Goliath, Novo Nordisk, Inc.

Posted March 5th, 2012.

Complaint Accuses Novo of Trampling on Employees’ Rights to Satisfy Company’s Insatiable Appetite for Profits

For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, (646) 681-7373,

(March 5, 2012, NEW YORK) – Attorneys at Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP (“SWH”) today filed a $70 million class and collective action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on behalf of two plaintiffs and a class of sales representatives (“reps”) currently or formerly employed by Danish Pharmaceutical manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, Inc.  The complaint demands $70 million in overtime pay and charges that Novo willfully fails to pay the reps overtime wages as required by New York and federal law.

SWH attorneys David W. Sanford, Steven L. Wittels, Jeremy Heisler, and Deborah K. Marcuse represent the individual plaintiffs and the class.

“Novo Nordisk has systematically trampled on its dedicated employees’ rights to be paid for their overtime work,” said Mr. Wittels. “It misclassifies its sales representatives as salaried employees exempt from the benefits of federal and state overtime laws, when in fact, they are not exempt at all.  There is something rotten about a company that earned more than $3 billion in 2011 profits, and at the same time refuses to pay its employees the overtime pay that is their due.”

Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk reported total 2011 sales of DKK 66.346 billion ($11.787 billiion US) and a net profit of DKK 19.097 billion ($3.04 billion), representing an 18% increase in profit from 2010.

Plaintiffs are New Jersey resident McKenzie Stepe and Texas resident Karen Woolen.  The two pharmaceutical sales representatives were required to work more than 40 hours a week by the company, but were never paid the overtime compensation dictated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or New York overtime laws.

“Novo Nordisk’s annual reports tout the company as being highly ethical and sensitive to the needs of its employees,” noted SWH attorney Deborah Marcuse.  “But this is a case of protesting too much.  Novo Nordisk willfully deprives its sales reps of overtime pay, notwithstanding the requirement of the law and Novo’s bulging cash coffers.  Our lawsuit is designed to remedy this injustice and to hold Novo true to its own self-professed ideals.”

Two classes of employees are defined in the complaint:  The FSLA class includes all Novo Nordisk sales representatives employed in any state or territory of the U.S. from March 2009 until the present, and the New York State law class includes all sales reps who worked for the company in New York for at least one day from March 2006 to the present who do not opt-out of the action.

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 sales reps employed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $99 million.  For more information, contact Sanford Wittels& Heisler at (646) 681-7373.