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Novartis pays $99 million in overtime case

Former sales reps denied overtime despite working more than 40 hours a week

Novartis AG has agreed to pay $99 million to settle a case that involves 7,000 plaintiffs.

In 2006, a group of Novartis sales representatives complained the company refused to pay them overtime, despite the fact that they worked more than 40 hours per week, and they filed suit. The settlement, which U.S. District Judge Paul Cotty granted preliminary approval of Tuesday, puts an end to a case that was six years in the making.

Although Novartis President Andre Wyss said in a statement that the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company believes it pays its employees in accordance with federal and state laws, he added that “it is time to resolve these wage and hour claims.”

The suit involved Novartis sales representatives that worked for the company between 2002 and 2007, as well as those who worked there from Jan. 25, 2009, to present.

"The risks of further litigation are great," David Sanford, a partner at Sanford Wittels & Heisler, said in a statement. Sanford represented the Novartis plaintiffs in this case. Sanford also reached a settlement with Novartis in July 2010. That case involved former female employees who claimed bias.

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