A recurring problem in wage and hour law is trying to distinguish between employees, who are are protected by the law, and independent contractors, who are not. The issue has arisen again, this time in the form of a class action filed in California against Northwestern Mutual Insurance. As reported by the National Law Journal, "the quiet company," like many in the insurance industry, classifies its sales force as independent contractors. Among other things, the plaintiffs allege that they were required to work at least 10 hours per day, five to six days per week, for less than minimum wage and (presumably) no overtime pay. According to the article, Northwestern won a similar dispute in a Pennsylvania court.
But with $200 million potentially at stake, you have to think that Northwestern wants its sales representatives to keep quiet and just sell insurance.