The class, collective and representative lawsuit was filed on behalf of Stryker Sales Representatives and Sales Associates working across a wide range of Stryker medical product divisions in the U.S.
On June 14, 2022, the law firms of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Shavitz Law Group, P.A. filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California on behalf of plaintiff Sales Associates and Sales Representatives against Stryker Corporation, a medical technologies corporation, for failure to pay overtime wages, provide mandated meal and rest breaks, and to reimburse business expenses, as well as other unlawful and/or unfair business practices under federal and California law. The lawsuit alleges that Stryker Sales Associates and Sales Representatives (collectively, “Sales Associates”), were misclassified as exempt from overtime compensation during their extensive, mandatory training period and were required to work more than 40 hours per week without overtime pay in violation of state and federal law. In addition, Stryker failed to pay the plaintiffs other wages and compensation owed under state laws.
“This is a cut-and-dried failure to pay lawful and adequate compensation,” notes Lieff Cabraser partner Lin Chan, who represents the employees in the lawsuit. “The sales reps and associates were required to work 70-80 hour weeks for months at a time, on-call for surgery attendance at all hours, and subject to rigorous and improper restrictions on their time including rest periods and breaks, all without the compensation specifically provided for by employee protection laws.”
The plaintiffs worked in a variety of Stryker’s divisions, including but not limited to Craniomaxillofacial; Ear, Nose, and Throat; Endoscopy; Foot & Ankle; Injury/Infection Prevention; Neurovascular; Spine/Trauma; Sports Medicine; Surgical; and Upper Extremities, but irrespective of division, the job was the same: learning to use and eventually sell Stryker medical devices. As detailed in the Complaint, Sales Associates worked 70 to 80 hours per week through their four-month training program, work that included attendance at classroom lectures, completion of training modules, shadowing certified Sales Associates, completion of weekly exams, and completion of physical exams demonstrating product knowledge.
In order to complete their training duties and successfully pass the training program, Sales Associates typically work long hours, including reviewing training materials from home, as instructed, to prepare for necessary exams, and shadowing certified Sales Associates representing Stryker at any and all hours of the day and night. However, because Stryker misclassifies Sales Associates as outside sales exempt employees during training, they do not receive compensation for any of their overtime hours worked.
As the Complaint details, however, the trainees do not qualify for the outside sales exemption, or any other arguable exemption under the law. The Complaint also illustrates Stryker’s common, company-wide policies of failing to relieve Sales Associate trainees of duties so that they may take meal and rest breaks to which they are entitled by law, or to pay the required meal and rest break penalties when such breaks are not allowed. Additionally, the Complaint highlights violations relating to non-payment of necessarily-incurred business-related expenses connected with the performance of Sales Associate duties, including cell phone, internet, and data costs.
“Our clients’ clear rights to overtime wages as employees were ignored, and this lawsuit seeks to redress those offenses and get them the rightfully-earned compensation they are due for their time and efforts on Stryker’s behalf,” said Shavitz Law partner Gregg Shavitz, who also represents the plaintiffs in the suit.
The lawsuit seeks designation as a collective action under the FLSA; class certification under the California Labor Code and Unfair Competition Law; a declaratory judgment that the violations listed in the Complaint are unlawful, and an award of damages including liquidated damages, penalties, and restitution as well as exemplary and punitive damages such as to deter future unlawful conduct.
Lin Y. Chan
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP