Boisseau v. Mitchell, No. 15014.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtHUTCHESON, , BORAH, Circuit , and DAWKINS
Citation218 F.2d 734
PartiesH. J. BOISSEAU, Appellant, v. James P. MITCHELL, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 15014.
Decision Date02 February 1955

218 F.2d 734 (1955)

H. J. BOISSEAU, Appellant,
v.
James P. MITCHELL, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Appellee.

No. 15014.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

February 2, 1955.


218 F.2d 735

Robert Weinstein, Henry F. Yoder, Rittenberg, Weinstein & Bronfin, New Orleans, La., for appellant.

Bessie Margolin, Chief, Appellate Division, U. S. Dept. of Labor, Washington, D. C., Earl Street, Dallas, Tex., Stuart Rothman, Sol., William W. Watson, Atty., U. S. Dept. of Labor, Washington, D. C., for appellee.

Before HUTCHESON, Chief Judge, BORAH, Circuit Judge, and DAWKINS, District Judge.

DAWKINS, District Judge.

Appellant operates a "letter shop" in New Orleans. He appeals from a judgment enjoining him from further violating the minimum wage and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act,1 Mitchell v. Boisseau, D.C.La., 118 F.Supp. 480.

The record discloses that the activities carried on in appellant's establishment consist of duplicating, mimeographing and otherwise reproducing form letters, advertising circulars and materials and other general private and commercial materials, affixing signatures to form documents, inserting names and addresses in these documents, addressing and "stuffing" envelopes, and stamping and mailing these materials to addressees or delivering them to appellant's customers for mailing. Sometimes, appellant simply duplicates or reproduces in quantity certain documents or data which are not mailed but are desired by the customer. All of appellant's customers were located in New Orleans; but it was agreed that approximately 30 per cent of his total volume of business was addressed to points outside the State of Louisiana, and a substantial proportion of this was actually deposited in the mails by appellant's employees.

Appellant had two men working in his establishment whom he called "office boys", whose principal duty was to affix signatures to documents. They were paid $1.00 per thousand for this work, but the record shows that they also engaged in other activities upon request, and that each participated in every phase of appellant's operation except typing at one time or another.

In addition, appellant employed several "contract workers", ladies who used the typewriter to address letters and envelopes. They worked no specified number of hours and reported for duty only when they were called and when they desired to work. They were allowed to do their work either at appellant's establishment or at their homes, and were paid as follows: $3.00 per thousand for addressing two-line envelopes; $3.50 per thousand for addressing three-line envelopes; $4.00 per thousand for addressing three-line letters; and $4.50 per thousand for addressing four-line letters.

Appellant resisted the suit on the ground that his employees were not engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce and therefore were not subject to the provisions of the Act. Further, he contended that he was entitled to the exemption for retail or service establishments

218 F.2d 736
provided by Section 13(a) (2) of the Act.2

The trial court held that appellant was subject to the Act generally, that he had failed to pay his employees the minimum wage and to keep proper records, and that he had not sustained the burden of proving that "his sales or services are regarded as retail in the particular industry of which he is a part." 118 F.Supp. 482.

Appellant here argues that: (1) his employees are not covered by the Act for the reason that their duties are not sufficiently related to interstate commerce; (2) since the employees could not testify with any degree of certainty the number of letters or envelopes they addressed per hour, there was no competent proof that he had violated the minimum wage provisions of the Act; and (3) his employees are exempt from the coverage of the Act because his business is a retail service establishment.

We think there is no doubt that even if appellant's employees themselves are not engaged in commerce, they are certainly engaged "in the production of goods for commerce" within the meaning of the Act. A great volume of the work appellant turns out finds its way into the mails and at least 30 per cent of the total volume of business is placed in the mails addressed to out-of-state parties. Much of this volume is placed in the mails by appellant's own employees. We think it clear that the Act generally applies. McLeod v. Threlkeld, 319 U.S. 491, 63 S.Ct. 1248, 87 L.Ed. 1538; Mabee v. White Plains Publishing Co., 327 U.S. 178, 66 S.Ct. 511, 90 L.Ed. 607; Mitchell v. Household Finance Corp., 3 Cir., 208 F.2d 667; Ivey v. Foremost Dairies, Inc., D.C.La., 106 F.Supp. 793; affirmed in part, 5 Cir., 204 F.2d 186; Russell Co. v. McComb, 5 Cir., 187 F.2d 524.

Neither are we impressed by appellant's argument that the Secretary's evidence failed to prove he had paid his employees less than the minimum wage. It is true that none of the employees could state positively the exact number of letters or envelopes they could address, or signatures they could affix, in an hour. However, they testified generally as to the conditions under which they worked, the circumstances which would determine the number they could turn out per hour and the manner in which they worked. Further, they estimated the maximum work they could do per hour. While lacking the degree of mathematical certainty for which appellant contends, this testimony, when fairly considered, shows rather plainly that in many instances appellant's employees earned substantially less than 75¢ per hour; and appellant does not deny that he failed to keep adequate records from which the exact hourly wage could be computed.

We turn now to a discussion of the exemption upon which appellant principally relies. The problem presented is not without difficulty.

Prior to the 1949 amendment, Sec. 13 (a) of the Act exempted from the coverage of Sections 6 and 7 "any employee engaged in any retail or service establishment the greater part of whose selling or servicing is in intrastate commerce".3 The test established under this statute...

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25 practice notes
  • Mitchell v. Telephone Answering Service, Inc., Civ. No. 331-57.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • October 22, 1959
    ...with manifest confidence upon Mitchell v. T. F. Taylor Fertilizer Works, Inc., 5 Cir., 233 F.2d 284; and Boisseau v. Mitchell, 5 Cir., 218 F.2d 734 serves somewhat to impair the instructiveness of the two cases last cited, and of other cases of comparable import decided by the Court of Appe......
  • Futrell v. Columbia Club, Inc., No. IP 69-C-176
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • August 2, 1971
    ...the particular industry. The applicability of the retail establishment exemption is a question of law. Boisseau v. Mitchell, 5 Cir., 1955, 218 F.2d 734. The Supreme Court has held that the industry recognition and not-for-resale tests are not the sole tests for the retail exemption. The Cou......
  • Lewis v. Brandt Furniture, Inc., Civ. A. No. 11191
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • December 9, 1967
    ...in any given case. Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., supra; Acme Car & Truck Rentals, Inc. v. Hooper, supra; Boisseau v. Mitchell, 218 F.2d 734, 738 (5 Cir. 1955). The task which confronts the Court has been described as one of "drawing lines" to set the bounds of the establi......
  • Rachal v. Allen, No. 20171.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 8, 1963
    ...Co. v. U. S., 2 Cir., 149 F.2d 130. 2 Cf. Mitchell v. T. F. Taylor Fertilizer Works, 5 Cir., 233 F.2d 284; Boisseau v. Mitchell, 5 Cir., 218 F.2d 734; Roland Elec. v. Walling, 326 U.S. 657, 66 S.Ct. 413, 90 L.Ed. 1 These were subsequently stipulated to be correct, see note 6, infra. 2 In ad......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Mitchell v. Telephone Answering Service, Inc., Civ. No. 331-57.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • October 22, 1959
    ...with manifest confidence upon Mitchell v. T. F. Taylor Fertilizer Works, Inc., 5 Cir., 233 F.2d 284; and Boisseau v. Mitchell, 5 Cir., 218 F.2d 734 serves somewhat to impair the instructiveness of the two cases last cited, and of other cases of comparable import decided by the Court of Appe......
  • Futrell v. Columbia Club, Inc., No. IP 69-C-176
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • August 2, 1971
    ...the particular industry. The applicability of the retail establishment exemption is a question of law. Boisseau v. Mitchell, 5 Cir., 1955, 218 F.2d 734. The Supreme Court has held that the industry recognition and not-for-resale tests are not the sole tests for the retail exemption. The Cou......
  • Lewis v. Brandt Furniture, Inc., Civ. A. No. 11191
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • December 9, 1967
    ...facts in any given case. Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., supra; Acme Car & Truck Rentals, Inc. v. Hooper, supra; Boisseau v. Mitchell, 218 F.2d 734, 738 (5 Cir. 1955). The task which confronts the Court has been described as one of "drawing lines" to set the bounds of the establishment u......
  • Rachal v. Allen, No. 20171.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 8, 1963
    ...Co. v. U. S., 2 Cir., 149 F.2d 130. 2 Cf. Mitchell v. T. F. Taylor Fertilizer Works, 5 Cir., 233 F.2d 284; Boisseau v. Mitchell, 5 Cir., 218 F.2d 734; Roland Elec. v. Walling, 326 U.S. 657, 66 S.Ct. 413, 90 L.Ed. 1 These were subsequently stipulated to be correct, see note 6, infra. 2 In ad......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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