323 U.S. 134 (1944), 12, Skidmore v. Swift & Co.

Docket Nº:No. 12
Citation:323 U.S. 134, 65 S.Ct. 161, 89 L.Ed. 124
Party Name:Skidmore v. Swift & Co.
Case Date:December 04, 1944
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 134

323 U.S. 134 (1944)

65 S.Ct. 161, 89 L.Ed. 124



Swift & Co.

No. 12

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 4, 1944

Argued October 13, 1944




1. No principle of law precluded a determination that waiting time was working time under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Armour & Co. v. Wantock, ante, p. 126. P. 136.

2. Whether time spent on the employer's premises (or in hailing distance) by fire guards subject to call was working time under the Fair Labor Standards Act is a question of fact to be resolved by appropriate findings of the trial court. P. 136.

3. Although the rulings, interpretations, and opinions of the Administrator under the Fair Labor Standards Act do not control judicial decision, they do constitute a body of experience and informed judgment to which courts and litigants may properly resort for guidance. P. 140.

136 F.2d 112 reversed.

Certiorari, 322 U.S. 723, to review the affirmance of a judgment, 53 F.Supp. 1020, denying recovery in a suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act for overtime, liquidated damages, and attorney's fees.

Page 135

JACKSON, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.

Seven employees of the Swift and Company packing plant at Fort Worth, Texas, brought an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act to recover overtime, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees totalling approximately $77,000. The District Court rendered judgment denying this claim wholly, and the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. 136 F.2d 112.

It is not denied that the daytime employment of these persons was working time within the Act. Two were engaged in general fire hall duties and maintenance of firefighting equipment of the Swift plant. The others operated elevators or acted as relief men in fire duties. They worked from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a half-hour lunch period, five days a week. They were paid weekly salaries.

Under their oral agreement of employment, however, petitioners undertook to stay in the fire hall on the Company premises, or within hailing distance, three and a half to four nights a week. This involved no task except to answer alarms, either because of fire or because the sprinkler was set off for some other reason. No fires occurred during the period in issue, the alarms were rare, and the time required for their answer rarely exceeded an hour. For each alarm answered, the employees were

Page 136

paid, in addition to their fixed compensation, an agreed amount, fifty cents at first, and later sixty-four cents. The Company provided a brick fire hall equipped with steam heat and air-conditioned rooms. It provided sleeping quarters, a pool table, a domino table, and a radio. The men used their time in sleep or amusement as they saw fit, except that they were required to stay in or...

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