464 U.S. 408 (1984), 82-1684, Donovan v. Lone Steer, Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 82-1684.
Citation:464 U.S. 408, 104 S.Ct. 769, 78 L.Ed.2d 567
Party Name:Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al., Appellants v. LONE STEER, INC.
Case Date:January 17, 1984
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 408

464 U.S. 408 (1984)

104 S.Ct. 769, 78 L.Ed.2d 567

Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al., Appellants

v.

LONE STEER, INC.

No. 82-1684.

United States Supreme Court.

Jan. 17, 1984

Argued Nov. 29, 1983.

Restaurant-motel brought action challenging validity of administrative subpoena issued by Secretary of Labor in connection with wages and hours examination under Fair Labor Standards Act. The United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, VanSickle, J., 565 F.Supp. 229, rendered judgment for the employer, and the Secretary appealed. The Supreme Court, Justice Rehnquist held that entry into public lobby of the motel-restaurant for purpose of serving the subpoena, which did not authorize either entry or inspection of premises but merely directed the business to produce certain wage and hour records, did not violate Fourth Amendment, notwithstanding a judicial warrant.

Reversed.

[104 S.Ct. 769] Syllabus[*]

SYLLABUS

The Secretary of Labor (Secretary) is authorized by § 11(a) of the Fair Labor [104 S.Ct. 770] Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to investigate and gather data regarding wages, hours, and other conditions of employment to determine whether an employer is violating the Act, and by § 9 to subpoena witnesses and documentary evidence relating to any matter under investigation. Pursuant to these provisions, a Department of Labor official, upon entering appellee motel and restaurant, served an administrative subpoena duces tecum on one of appellee's employees, directing the employee to appear at the area Wage and Hour Office with certain payroll and sales records. Appellee refused to comply with the subpoena and sought declaratory and injunctive relief in Federal District Court, claiming that the subpoena constituted an unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The District Court held that, although the Secretary had complied with the applicable FLSA provisions in issuing the subpoena, enforcement of the subpoena would violate the Fourth Amendment because the Secretary had not previously obtained a judicial warrant.

Held: The subpoena duces tecum did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Oklahoma Press Publishing Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186, 66 S.Ct. 494, 90 L.Ed. 614, controlling. An entry into the public lobby of a motel and restaurant for the purpose of serving an administrative subpoena is not the sort of governmental act that is forbidden by that Amendment. Here, the subpoena itself did not authorize either entry or inspection of appellee's premises but merely directed appellee to produce certain wage and hour records, and no nonconsensual entry into areas not open to the public was made. Marshall v. Barlow's, Inc., 436 U.S. 307, 98 S.Ct. 1816, 56 L.Ed.2d 305, and Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523, 87 S.Ct. 1727, 18 L.Ed.2d 930, distinguished. While a subpoenaed employer, in an action in federal district court, may question the reasonableness of a subpoena before suffering any penalties for refusing to comply with it, the available defenses do not include the right to insist upon a judicial warrant as a condition precedent to a valid subpoena. Pp. 772 - 774.

Reversed.

COUNSEL

Alan I. Horowitz argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Solicitor General Lee, Deputy Solicitor General Geller, Karen I. Ward, and Charles I. Hadden.

Richard G. Peterson argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief wasJames Patrick Barone.*

* Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the National Restaurant Association by Robert W. Hartland; and for the Washington Legal Foundation by Daniel J. Popeo, Paul D. Kamenar, and Nicholas E. Calio.

Robert E. Williams, Douglas S. McDowell, and Stephen C. Yohay filed a brief for the Equal Employment Advisory Council as amicus curiae.

Page 409

Alan I. Horowitz, Washington, D.C., for appellants.

Richard G. Peterson, Denver, Colo., for appellee.

OPINION

Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Section 11(a) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA or Act), 29 U.S.C. § 211(a), authorizes the Secretary of Labor to investigate and gather data regarding wages, hours, and other conditions of employment to determine whether an employer is violating the Act. 1 §

Page 410

9 of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 209, empowers the Secretary of Labor to subpoena witnesses and documentary evidence relating [104 S.Ct. 771] to any matter under investigation. 2 Pursuant to those provisions, an official of the Department of Labor served an administrative subpoena duces tecum on an employee of appellee Lone Steer, Inc., a motel and restaurant located in Steele, North Dakota. The subpoena directed an officer or agent of appellee with personal knowledge of appellee's records to appear at the Wage...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP