Anderson v. Mt Clemens Pottery Co, No. 342

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMURPHY
Citation328 U.S. 680,90 L.Ed. 1515,66 S.Ct. 1187
Decision Date10 June 1946
Docket NumberNo. 342
PartiesANDERSON et al. v. MT. CLEMENS POTTERY CO

328 U.S. 680
66 S.Ct. 1187
90 L.Ed. 1515
ANDERSON et al.

v.

MT. CLEMENS POTTERY CO.

No. 342.
Argued Jan. 29, 1946.
Decided June 10, 1946.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 14, 1946.

See 67 S.Ct. 25.

[Syllabus from pages 680-682 intentionally omitted]

Page 682

Mr. Edward Lamb, of Toledo, Ohio, for petitioners.

Messrs. Frank E. Cooper, of Detroit, Mich., and Bert V. Nunneley, of Mount Clemens, Mich., for respondent.

Mr. Justice MURPHY delivered the opinion of the Court.

Several important issues are raised by this case concerning the proper determination of working time for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., 29 U.S.C.A. § 201 et seq.

The Mt. Clemens Pottery Company, the respondent, employs approximately 1200 persons at its pottery plant at Mt. Clemens, Michigan; about 95% of them are compensated upon a piece work basis. The plant covers more than eight acres of ground and is about a quarter of a mile in length. The employees' entrance is at the northeast corner. Immediately adjacent to that entrance are cloak and rest rooms where employees may change to their working clothes and place their street clothes in lockers. Different shifts begin at different times during the day, with whistles frequently indicating the starting time for productive work. The whistles which blow at 6:55 and 7:00 a.m., however, are the most commonly used. An

Page 683

interval of 14 minutes prior to the scheduled starting time for each shift permits the employees to punch time clocks, walk to their respective places of work and prepare for the start of productive work. Approximately 200 employees use each time clock during each 14-minute period and an average of 25 employees can punch the clock per minute. Thus a minimum of 8 minutes is necessary for the employees to get by the time clock. The employees then walk to their working places along clean, painted floors of the brightly illuminated and well ventilated building. They are free to take whatever course through the plant they desire and may stop off at any portion of the journey to converse with other employees and to do whatever else they may desire. The minimum distances between time clocks and working places, however, vary from 130 feet to 890 feet, the estimated walking time ranging from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Some of the estimates as to walking time, however, go as high as 6 to 8 minutes. Upon arriving at their places of work, the employees perform various preliminary duties, such as putting on aprons and overalls, removing shirts, taping or greasing their arms, putting on finger cots, preparing the equipment for productive work, turning on switches for lights and machinery, opening windows and assumbling and sharpening tools. Such activities, it is claimed, consume 3 or 4 minutes at the most. The employees are also allowed a 14-minute period at the completion of the established working periods to leave the plant and punch out at the time clocks.

Working time is calculated by respondent on the basis of the time cards punched by the clocks. Compensable working time extends from the succeeding even quarter hour after employees punch in to the quarter hour immediately preceding the time when they punch out. Thus an employee who punches in at 6:46 a.m., punches out at 12:14 p.m., punches in again at 12:46 p.m. and finally

Page 684

punches out at 4:14 p.m. is credited with having worked the 8 hours between 7 a.m. and 12 noon and between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.—a total of 56 minutes less than the time recorded by the time clocks.

Seven employees and their local union, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, brought this suit under § 16(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, alleging that the foregoing method of computation did not accurately reflect all the time actually worked and that they were thereby deprived of the propero vertime compensation guaranteed them by § 7(a) of the Act. They claimed inter alia that all employees worked approximately 56 minutes more per day than credited by respondent and that, in any event, all the time between the hours punched on the time cards constituted compensable working time.

The District Court referred the case to a special master. After hearing testimony and making findings, the master recommended that the case be dismissed since the complaining employees 'have not established by a fair preponderance of evidence' a violation of the Act by respondent. He found that the employees were not required to, and did not, work approximately 56 minutes more per day than credited to them. He further found that the employees 'have not sustained their burden to prove that all the time between the punched entries on the clock was spent in working and that conversely none of the time in advance of the starting time spent by employees arriving early was their own time.' Production work, he concluded, 'did not regularly commence until the established starting time; and, if in some instances it was commenced shortly prior thereto, it was counterbalanced by occasions when it was started after the hour and by admitted occasions when it was stopped several minutes before quitting time.'

Page 685

As to the time between the punching of the clocks and the start of the productive work, the master made the following determinations:

(1) The time spent in walking from the time clocks to the places of work was not compensable working time in view of the established custom in the industry and in respondent's plant to that effect.

(2) The time consumed in preliminary duties after arriving at the places of work was not compensable here since the employees had produced no reliable evidence from which the amount of such work could be determined with reasonable definiteness.

(3) The time spent in waiting before and after the shift periods was not compensable since the employees failed to prove that if they came in early enough to have waiting time they were required to do so or were not free to spend such time on their own behalf.

The District Court agreed 'in the main' with the master's findings and conclusions with one exception. It felt that the evidence demonstrated that practically all of the employees had punched in, walked to their places of work and were ready for productive work at from 5 to 7 minutes before the scheduled starting time, 'and it does not seem probable that with compensation set by piece work, and the crew ready, that these employees didn't start to work immediately.' The court accordingly established a formula, applicable to all employees, for computing this additional time spent in productive work. Under the formula, 5 minutes were allowed for punching the clock and 2 minutes for walking from the clock to the place of work—a total of 7 minutes which were not to be considered as working time. All minutes over those 7 as shown by the time cards in the morning and all over 5 at the beginning of the afternoon were to be computed as part of the hours worked. The court found no evidence of productive work

Page 686

after the scheduled quitting time at noon or night. In other words, working time under this formula extended from the time punched in the morning, less 7 minutes, to the scheduled quitting time at noon and from the time punched at the beginning of the afternoon, less 5 minutes, to the scheduled quitting time for the day. No reason was given for the 2-minute differential between the morning and afternoon punchins. The use of this formula led the District Court to enter a judgment against respondent in the amount of $2,415.74 plus costs. 60 F.Supp. 146.

Only the respondent appealed. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals made a careful examination of the master's findings and conclusions, holding that they were all supported by substantial evidence and were not clearly erroneous. It stated that the District Court erred in failing to accept he finding of the master that productive work did not actually start until the scheduled time and that the formula devised for computing additional productive work was unsustainable because based upon surmise and conjecture. The Circuit Court of Appeals further held that the burden rested upon the employees to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they did not receive the wages to which they were entitled under the Act and to show by evidence rather than conjecture the extent of overtime worked, it being insufficient for them merely to offer an estimated average of overtime worked. The cause of action accordingly was ordered to be dismissed. 149 F.2d 461.

But we believe that the Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as the master, imposed upon the employees an improper standard of proof, a standard that has the practical effect of impairing many of the benefits of the Fair Labor Standards Act. An employee who brings suit under § 16(b) of the Act for unpaid minimum wages or unpaid overtime compensation, together with liquidated dam-

Page 687

ages, has the burden of proving that he performed work for which he was not properly compensated. The remedial nature of this statute and the great public policy which it embodies, however, militate against making that burden an impossible hurdle for the employee. Due regard must be given to the fact that it is the employer who has the duty under § 11(c) of the Act to keep proper records of wages, hours and other conditions and practices of employment and who is in position to know and to produce the most probative facts concerning the nature and amount of work performed. Employees seldom keep such records themselves; even if they do, the records may be and frequently are untrustworthy. It is in this setting that a proper and fair standard must be erected for the employee to meet in carrying out his burden of proof.

When the employer has kept proper and accurate records the employee may easily discharge his burden by securing the production of those records. But...

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2246 practice notes
  • Marshall v. Amsted Rail Co., Case No. 10–cv–0011–MJR–SCW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Southern District of Illinois
    • September 20, 2011
    ...spent walking from the time clocks to their workstations must be treated as part of the “workweek.” Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 691–92, 66 S.Ct. 1187, 90 L.Ed. 1515 (1946) (the workweek includes “all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the e......
  • Allen v. Board of Public Educ. for Bibb County, No. 06-12131.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 17, 2007
    ...which it embodies . . . militate against making that burden an impossible hurdle for the employee." Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 687, 66 S.Ct. 1187, 90 L.Ed. 1515 (1946). It is the employer's duty to keep records of the employee's wages, hours, and other conditions and......
  • Herman v. Hector I. Nieves Transp., Inc., No. Civ. 96-2479JAF.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • February 15, 2000
    ...has the burden of proving that the employer did not compensate him for completed work. See Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 687, 66 S.Ct. 1187, 90 L.Ed. 1515 (1946). "When the employer has kept proper and accurate records, the employee may easily discharge his burden by se......
  • Khurana v. JMP United States, Inc., 14-CV-4448 (SIL)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • April 5, 2017
    ...Berrios v. Nicholas Zito Racing Stable, Inc., 849 F. Supp. 2d 372, 379 (E.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 687, 66 S. Ct. 1187 (1946)); see also Reich v. S. New England Telecomms. Corp., 121 F.3d 58, 66 (2d Cir. 1997) (internal citations omitted) (hol......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2266 cases
  • Marshall v. Amsted Rail Co., Case No. 10–cv–0011–MJR–SCW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Southern District of Illinois
    • September 20, 2011
    ...spent walking from the time clocks to their workstations must be treated as part of the “workweek.” Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 691–92, 66 S.Ct. 1187, 90 L.Ed. 1515 (1946) (the workweek includes “all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the e......
  • Allen v. Board of Public Educ. for Bibb County, No. 06-12131.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 17, 2007
    ...which it embodies . . . militate against making that burden an impossible hurdle for the employee." Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 687, 66 S.Ct. 1187, 90 L.Ed. 1515 (1946). It is the employer's duty to keep records of the employee's wages, hours, and other conditions and......
  • Herman v. Hector I. Nieves Transp., Inc., No. Civ. 96-2479JAF.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • February 15, 2000
    ...has the burden of proving that the employer did not compensate him for completed work. See Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 687, 66 S.Ct. 1187, 90 L.Ed. 1515 (1946). "When the employer has kept proper and accurate records, the employee may easily discharge his burden by se......
  • Khurana v. JMP United States, Inc., 14-CV-4448 (SIL)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • April 5, 2017
    ...Berrios v. Nicholas Zito Racing Stable, Inc., 849 F. Supp. 2d 372, 379 (E.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 687, 66 S. Ct. 1187 (1946)); see also Reich v. S. New England Telecomms. Corp., 121 F.3d 58, 66 (2d Cir. 1997) (internal citations omitted) (hol......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Sword and the Shield: The Benefits of Opinion Letters by Employment and Labor Agencies.
    • United States
    • Missouri Law Review Vol. 86 Nbr. 4, September 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    ...251(a), as recognized in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, 574 U.S. 27 (2014). (41) Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 690-91 (42) Tennessee Coal, 321 U.S. at 598; Anderson, 328 U.S. at 691-92. (43) Anderson, 328 U.S. at 691-92. (44) Alfred & Schauer, supra not......

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