330 U.S. 649 (1947), 22, Levinson v. Spector Motor Service

Docket Nº:No. 22
Citation:330 U.S. 649, 67 S.Ct. 931, 91 L.Ed. 1158
Party Name:Levinson v. Spector Motor Service
Case Date:March 31, 1947
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 649

330 U.S. 649 (1947)

67 S.Ct. 931, 91 L.Ed. 1158

Levinson

v.

Spector Motor Service

No. 22

United States Supreme Court

March 31, 1947

Argued December 11, 1945

Reargued October 21, 22, 1946

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

Syllabus

1. The Interstate Commerce Commission "has power," under § 204 of the Motor Carrier Act, 1935, to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service with respect to a "checker" or "terminal foreman," a substantial part of whose activities consists of doing, or immediately directing, the work of one or more "loaders" of freight for an interstate motor carrier, as such class of work has been defined by the Commission and found by it to affect the safety of operation, and such an employee is expressly excluded by § 13(b)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act from the overtime compensation requirements of § 7, although the Commission has not exercised its power affirmatively by establishing qualifications and maximum hours of service with respect to "loaders." Pp. 651-653, 670-685.

2. In order to establish that an employee is excluded by § 13(b)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act from a right to increased pay for overtime services under § 7, it is not necessary as a condition precedent to find that the Commission has exercised or should exercise its power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service. The existence of the power is enough. P. 678.

3. From the point of view of the Commission and its jurisdiction over safety of operation, it is the character of an employee's activities, rather than the proportion of his time or of his activities, that determines the need for the Commission's power to establish qualifications

Page 650

and maximum hours of service. Pp. 674-675. [See also Pyramid Motor Freight Corp. v. Ispass, post, p. 695.]

4. For the purposes of this case, it is enough that a substantial part of the employee's activities consisted of doing, or immediate direction of, the very kind of activities of a "loader" which the Commission found to affect safety of operation-although it does not appear what fraction of his time was spent in such activities. P. 681.

5. The scope of the power of the Commission under § 204 to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service with respect to classes of employees of interstate motor carriers depends upon an interpretation of that section in accordance with the purposes of the Motor Carrier Act and the regulations issued pursuant to it -- not upon a restrictive interpretation of the exemption created by § 13(b)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Pp. 676-677.

6. In reconciling these two Acts, it is necessary to put safety first and to limit the authority of the Wage and Hour Administrator to those employees of motor carriers whose activities do not affect the safety of operation. P. 677.

7. The Wage and Hour Administrator has no authority to expand his jurisdiction under the Fair Labor Standards Act by administrative interpretations which reduce the jurisdiction of the Commission under the Motor Carrier Act. P. 684.

389 Ill. 466, 59 N.E.2d 817, affirmed.

An employee of an interstate motor carrier obtained judgment in a state court for unpaid overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Appellate Court of Illinois reversed. 323 Ill.App. 505, 56 N.E.2d 142. The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed. 389 Ill. 466, 59 N.E.2d 817. This Court granted certiorari. 326 U.S. 703. Affirmed, p. 685.

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BURTON, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether the Interstate Commerce Commission has the power, under § 204 of the Motor Carrier Act, 1935,1 to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service with respect to any "checker" or "terminal foreman," a substantial part of whose activities in that capacity consists of doing, or immediately

Page 652

directing, the work of one or more "loaders" of freight for an interstate motor carrier as such class of work is defined by the Interstate Commerce Commission in Ex parte No. MC-2, 28 M.C.C. 125, 133, 134,2 although the rest of his activities do not affect the safety of operation of any such motor carrier.3

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[67 S.Ct. 934] We hold that the Commission has that power, and that § 13(b)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act4 therefore expressly excludes any such employee from a right to the increased pay for overtime service prescribed by § 7 of that Act.5

In this action, brought in the Municipal Court of Chicago pursuant to § 16(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act,6 the petitioner recovered judgment against his employer,

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the respondent, for $487.44 for unpaid overtime compensation for petitioner's services, as a "checker" or "terminal foreman," computed in accordance with § 7 of that Act. In addition, the judgment included $487.44, as liquidated damages, and $175 as an attorney's fee, making a total of $1,149.88 and costs. The defense was that, under § 13(b)(1), the provisions of § 7 did not apply to the petitioner's service. On that ground, the judgment was reversed by the Appellate Court of Illinois and the cause remanded with directions to enter judgment, with costs, for the respondent. 323 Ill.App. 505, 56 N.E.2d 142. The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed. 389 Ill. 466, 59 N.E.2d 817. We granted certiorari because of the importance of the question in interpreting the Motor Carrier Act and Fair Labor Standards Act. 326 U.S. 703. It was argued at the October Term, 1945, of this Court, and, on January 2, 1946, was restored to the docket for reargument before a full bench at this Term. It was so argued on October 21 and 22, 1946. In addition to the briefs and arguments on behalf of the parties, we have had the benefit of those presented at our request on behalf of amici curiae. These were from the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, United States Department of Labor, who supported the position of the petitioner, and, on the other hand, from the Interstate Commerce Commission, which claimed that it possessed, under the Motor Carrier Act, the power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service with respect to the petitioner. The Solicitor General, also at our request, filed a memorandum. In it, he supported the petition for certiorari and took what he has described as "a position somewhat between that of the Commission and that of the Wage and Hour Administrator."

The respondent is a Missouri corporation, licensed in Illinois and engaged in interstate commerce as a motor carrier of freight. It does not appear whether the respondent

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is a common carrier, contract carrier, or private carrier of property. The result, however, does not turn upon differences between those classifications. The petitioner was employed by the respondent from October 1, 1940, through October 6, 1941, in one or more capacities which he [67 S.Ct. 935] designates generally as those of a "checker" or "terminal foreman." While the evidence is conflicting as to some of his duties, there is ample to sustain the judgment of the Supreme Court of Illinois on the basis that a substantial part of his activities consisted of doing, or immediately directing, the work of one or more "loaders" of freight for an interstate motor carrier as that class of work is defined by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The Supreme Court of Illinois accepted the Appellate Court's description of petitioner's activities.7 The power of the

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Commission to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service with respect to such "loaders" has been defined and delimited by it in a series of well considered decisions, dating from the extension of its jurisdiction, in 1935, so as to include motor carriers.

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The history of the development of the congressional safety program in interstate commerce, up to and including the enactment of the Motor Carrier Act in 1935 and [67 S.Ct. 936] the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, tells the story.

In comparable fields, Congress previously had prescribed safety equipment, limited maximum hours of service, and imposed penalties for violations of its requirements.8 In those Acts, Congress did not rely upon increases in rates of pay for overtime service to enforce the limitations it set upon hours of service. While a requirement of pay that is higher for overtime service than for regular service tends to deter employers from permitting such service, it tends also to encourage employees to seek it. The requirement of such increased pay is a remedial measure adapted to the needs of an economic and social program, rather than a police regulation adapted to the rigid enforcement required in a safety program. Overnight Motor Co. v. Missel, 316 U.S. 572, 577-578.

By 1935, 40 states had attempted to regulate safety of operation of carriers by motor vehicle. Some had established qualifications and maximum hours of service for

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drivers and helpers. Increased interstate movements of motor carriers then made necessary the Motor Carrier Act, 1935, approved August 9, 1935, as Part II of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 Stat. 543. This Act vested in the Interstate Commerce Commission power to establish reasonable requirements with respect to qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees and safety of operation and equipment of common and contract carriers by motor vehicle. § 204(a)(1)(2). Similar, but not identical, language was used as to private carriers of property by motor vehicle. § 204(a)(3). The Act expressly superseded "any code of fair competition for any industry embracing motor carriers." § 204(b). Section 203(b) listed many types of motor carriers which were exempted in general from the Act, but that Section...

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