312 U.S. 126 (1941), 330, Opp Cotton Mills v. Administrator of Wage And Hour Division of Department of Labor

Docket Nº:No. 330.
Citation:312 U.S. 126, 61 S.Ct. 524, 85 L.Ed. 624
Case Date:February 03, 1941
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 126

312 U.S. 126 (1941)

61 S.Ct. 524, 85 L.Ed. 624

OPP COTTON MILLS, Inc., et al.



No. 330.

United States Supreme Court.

Feb. 3, 1941

Argued Dec. 20, 1940.

As Amended Feb. 17, 1941.

On Writ of Certiorari to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Petition by Opp Cotton Mills, Incorporated, and others, against the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor to review and set aside an order fixing a uniform 32 1/2 cents per hour minimum wage for the textile industry and for other relief. To review a judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals, 111 F.2d 23, which affirmed the order, petitioners bring certiorari.



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[61 S.Ct. 527] Mr. Ben F. Cameron, of Meridian, Miss., for petitioners.

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Francis Biddle, Sol. Gen., for respondent.


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Mr. Justice STONE, delivered the opinion of the Court.

Three types of questions are presented by the petition for certiorari in this case:

First, whether the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U.S.C.A. s 201 et seq., is authorized by the Commerce Clause, art. 1, s 8, cl. 3, violates the Tenth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and is an unconstitutional delegation of the legislative power of Congress to the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, appointed pursuant to s 4(a) of the Act.

Second, whether an order of the Administrator prescribing a minimum wage in an industry is unauthorized by the statute and invalid because the procedure of the Administrator and an Industry Committee appointed by him pursuant to s 5 of the Act, which resulted in the order, is unauthorized and violates the Fifth Amendment.

Third, whether the order of the Administrator is invalid because his findings on which the order is based are without the support of substantial evidence. The challenged findings are that the minimum wage established by the order will not substantially curtail employment, and that a classification within the industry is unnecessary for the purpose of fixing, for each classification [61 S.Ct. 528] within it, the highest minimum wage which will not substantially curtail employment in such classification and will not give any competitive advantage to any group in the industry.

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Petitioner, Opp Cotton Mills, Inc., an Alabama corporation subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, alleging that it was aggrieved by an order of respondent, the Administrator, brought the present proceeding in the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit pursuant to s 10 of the Act, to review and set aside the order fixing a uniform 32 1/2 cents per hour minimum wage for the textile industry and for other relief. So far as now relevant petitioners challenged the validity of the Act and the order upon the grounds already memtioned. The Court of Appeals sustained the order. 5 Cir., 111 F.2d 23. We granted certiorari, October 14, 1940, on a petition raising the same questions concerning the validity of the order which we deem of public importance in the administration of the Act. 311 U.S. 631, 61 S.Ct. 46, 85 L.Ed. 402.

The general scope of the Act and the provisions of s 15(a)(1)(2) and (5) and ss 6 and 7, prohibiting the manufacture for and shipment in interstate commerce of goods produced for the commerce by employees employed at less than the prescribed minimum wage or more than the prescribed maximum hours without payment of the required overtime wage, have been discussed in United States v. Darby Lumber Company, 312 U.S. 100, 61 S.Ct. 451, 85 L.Ed. 609, decided this day. It is unnecessary to repeat that discussion here.

We are here concerned with s 5(a), s 6(a)(4), and s 8, under which the proceedings were had which resulted in the challenged order of the Administrator. These sections read together set up an administrative procedure for establishing a minimum wage in particular industries greater than the statutory minimum prescribed by s 6, but not in excess of 40 cents an hour, such increase over the statutory minimum to be fixed for any industry subject to the Act by the Administrator in collaboration with an industry committee.

Section 5 provides, subsection (a), that the Administrator shall appoint an industry committee for each industry

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engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for the commerce; that, subsection (b), the committee shall include persons representing the public, one of whom shall be designated as chairman, a like number representing employees in the industry, a like number representing employers in the industry, and directs that 'In the appointment of the persons representing each group, the Administrator shall give due regard to the geographical regions in which the industry is carried on'; that, subsection (d), the Administrator shall submit to the committee from time to time available data on matters referred to it, shall cause to be brought before the committee in connection with such matters any witnesses whom he deems material, and that the committee may summon other witnesses or call upon the Administrator to furnish additional information to aid it in its deliberations.

Section 6(a)(4) provides that at any time after the effective date of the section the minimum wage shall be 'not less than the rate (not in excess of 40 cents an hour) prescribed in the applicable order of the Administrator issued under section 8 (208)'. Section 8(a) prescribes the procedure to be followed by the Administrator and industry committee in establishing the minimum wage authorized by s 6(a)(4). It provides that with the view to carrying out the policy of the Act 'by reaching, as rapidly as is economically feasible without substantially curtailing employment, the objective of a universal minimum wage of 40 cents an hour in each industry' subject to the Act, the Administrator 'shall from time to time convene the industry committee for each such industry' which 'shall * * * recommend the minimum rate or rates of wages to be paid under section 6 (206) by employers' subject to the Act 'in such industry or classifications therein'.

Upon the Administrator's referring to the committee the question of minimum wage rates in an industry, s 8

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(b) requires it to 'investigate conditions in the industry', authorizes it or a sub-committee to 'hear such witnesses and receive such evidence as may be necessary or appropriate to enable the committee to perform its duties and functions' under the Act and requires the committee to 'recommend to the Administrator the highest minimum wage rates for the industry which it determines, [61 S.Ct. 529] having due regard to economic and competitive conditions, will not substantially curtail employment in the industry'. Subsection (c) requires the committee for any industry to 'recommend such reasonable classifications within any industry as it determines to be necessary for the purpose of fixing for each classification within such industry the highest minimum wage rate (not in excess of 40 cents an hour) which (1) will not substantially curtail employment in such classification and (2) will not give a competitive advantage to any group in the industry, and shall recommend for each classification in the industry the highest minimum wage rate which the committee determines will not substantially curtail employment in such classification'. It further directs that 'no classification shall be made, and no minimum wage rate shall be fixed, solely on a regional basis, but the industry committee and the Administrator shall consider among other relevant factors the following:

'(1) competitive conditions as affected by transportation, living, and production costs;

'(2) the wages established for work of like or comparable character by collective labor agreements negotiated between employers and employees by representatives of their own choosing; and

'(3) the wages paid for work of like or comparable character by employers who voluntarily maintain minimum-wage standards in the industry.'

By s 8(d) after the industry committee files its report with the Administrator he, 'after due notice to interested

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persons, and giving them an opportunity to be heard, shall by order approve and carry into effect the recommendations contained in such report, if he finds that the recommendations are made in accordance with law, are supported by the evidence adduced at the hearing, and, taking into consideration the same factors as are required to be considered by the industry committee, will carry out the purposes of this section'. Otherwise the Administrator is required to disapprove the recommendations of the committee and again refer the matter to the committee or to another committee for the industry which he may appoint for that purpose. Subsection (f) provides among other things that the wage orders of the Administrator 'shall define the industries and classifications therein to which they are to apply' and subsection (g) provides that 'due notice of any hearing provided for in the section shall be given by publication in the Federal Register and by such other means as the administrator deems reasonably calculated to give general notice to interested persons.'

As appears from his findings in support of the order, the Administrator, on September 13, 1938, appointed Industry Committee No. 1 for the textile industry, that industry being so defined by the order of appointment as to include the manufacture of cotton, silk, rayon and other products. Seven persons representing the public, seven representing employers in the...

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