Foley Bros v. Ilardo, No. 91

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtREED
PartiesFOLEY BROS., Inc., et al. v. ILARDO
Decision Date07 March 1949
Docket NumberNo. 91

336 U.S. 281
69 S.Ct. 575
93 L.Ed. 680
FOLEY BROS., Inc., et al.

v.

ILARDO.

No. 91.
Argued Dec. 15, 1948.
Decided March 7, 1949.

Page 282

Mr. Robert L. Stern, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Mr. Chester A. Lessler, of New York City, for respondent.

Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether the Eight Hour Law1 applies to a contract between the United States and a private contractor for construction work in a foreign country.

This Act provides that 'Every contract made to which the United States * * * is a party * * * shall contain a provision that no laborer or mechanic doing any part of the work contemplated by the contract, in the employ of the contractor or any subcontractor * * * shall be required or permitted to work more than eight hours in any one calendar day upon such work; * * *.' 37 Stat. 137, 40 U.S.C. § 324, 40 U.S.C.A. § 324.

Penalties are specified for violations. In 1940 the prohibition against workdays of longer than eight hours was modified as follows: 'Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the wages of every laborer and mechanic employed by

Page 283

any contractor or subcontractor engaged in the performance of any contract of the character specified in sections 324 and 325 of this title, shall be computed on a basic day rate of eight hours per day and work in excess of eight hours per day shall be permitted upon compensation for all hours worked in excess of eight hours per day at not less than one and one-half times the basic rate of pay.' 54 Stat. 884, 40 U.S.C. § 325a, 40 U.S.C.A. § 325a.

In 1941 petitioners contracted on a cost-plus basis to build certain public works on behalf of the United States in the East and Near East, particularly in Iraq and Iran. Petitioners agreed in the contract to 'obey and abide by all applicable laws, regulations, ordinances, and other rules of the United States of America.' The provisions of the Eight Hour Law were not specifically included in the contract. In 1942 petitioners hired respondent, an American citizen, to work on the construction projects as a cook at $60 a week. This contract of employment contained no provision concerning hours of work or overtime. Pursuant to the contract, respondent went to Iraq and Iran where he frequently worked more than eight hours a day during the years 1942 and 1943.

Upon the refusal of his request for overtime pay for work in excess of eight hours per day, he brought suit against petitioners in the Supreme Court of New York, claiming that the Act entitled him to one and one-half times the basic rate of pay for such work. The court denied petitioners' motions to dismiss the case and for a directed verdict thereby overruling the contention that the Act did not apply to contracts which were to be performed in foreign countries. Judgment was entered on a jury verdict for respondent. The Appellate Division reversed on the ground that the Eight Hour Law as amended did not confer a right of action on an employee for overtime pay. 272 App.Div. 446, 71 N.Y.S.2d 592.

Page 284

Consequently it did not consider the question now before us. The New York Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Act applied to this contract. 297 N.Y. 217, 78 N.E.2d 480, 484. Referring to the language of the statute quoted above, it concluded, 'Words of such inclusive reach cannot properly be read to exclude contracts for government jobs abroad.' We granted certiorari to settle this important question concerning the scope of the Eight Hour Law. 335 U.S. 808, 69 S.Ct. 35.

Since the question is one of statutory interpretation, the Act as it now exists, 40 U.S.C. §§ 321—326, 40 U.S.C.A. §§ 321 326, is our starting point. In pertinent part it provides for the limitation to eight hours per day of the working time of laborers and mechanics employed by the government or any contractor thereof on a public work of the United States. § 321. The same section makes it unla ful to require or permit work in excess of eight hours per day except in extraordinary emergencies. An intentional violation of this mandate is made a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. § 322. The insertion in 'every contract' made by or on behalf of the United States of this restriction on hours of work is required by § 324. The contracts must stipulate a monetary penalty for violation, which penalty takes the form of a withholding by the government of moneys otherwise due the contractor under the terms of the contract. § 324. Finally the restriction is lifted as to employees of private contractors by § 325a, supra, 336 U.S. 282, 69 S.Ct. 576, on condition that hours worked in excess of eight be paid for at the overtime rate.

The question before us is not the power of Congress to extend the Eight Hour Law to work performed in foreign countries. Petitioner concedes that such power exists. Cf. Blackmer v. United States, 284 U.S. 421, 52 S.Ct. 252, 76 L.Ed. 375; United States v. Bowman, 260 U.S. 94, 43 S.Ct. 39, 67 L.Ed. 149. The question is

Page 285

rather whether Congress intended to make the law applicable to such work. We conclude, for the reasons expressed below, that such was not the intention of the legislators.

First. The canon of construction which teaches that legislation of Congress, unless a countrary intent appears, is meant to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, Blackmer v. United States, supra, 284 U.S. at 437, 52 S.Ct. at page 254, 76 L.Ed. 375, is a valid approach whereby unexpressed congressional intent may be ascertained It is based on the assumption that Congress is primarily concerned with domestic conditions. We find nothing in the Act itself, as amended, nor in the legislative history, which would lead to the belief that Congress entertained any intention other than the normal one in this case. The situation here is different from that in Vermilya-Brown Co. v. Connell, 335 U.S. 377, 69 S.Ct. 140, where we held that by specifically declaring that the Act covered 'possessions' of the United States, Congress directed that the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 201 et seq., applied beyond those areas over which the United States has sovereignty and was in effect in all 'possessions.' This Court concluded that the leasehold there involved was a 'possession' within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

There is no language in the Eight Hour Law, here in question, that gives any indication of a congressional purpose to extend its coverage beyond places over which the United States has sovereignty or has some measure of legislative control. There is nothing brought to our attention indicating that the United States had been granted by the respective sovereignties any authority, legislative or otherwise, over the labor laws or customs of Iran or Iraq. We were on their territory by their leave, but without the transfer of any property rights to us.

Page 286

The scheme of the Act itself buttresses our conclusion. No distinction is drawn therein between laborers who are aliens and those who are citizens of the United States. Unless we were to read such a distinction into the statute we should be forced to conclude, under respondent's reasoning, that Congress intended to regulate the working hours of a citizen of Iran who chanced to be employed on a public work of the United States in that foreign land. Such a conclusion would be logically inescapable although labor conditions in Iran were known to be wholly dissimilar to those in the United States and wholly beyond the control of this nation. An intention so to regulate labor conditions which are the primary concern of a foreign country should not be attributed to Congress in the absence of a clearly expressed purpose. See Attorney General Stone's conclusion to this effect in 34 Op.Atty.Gen. 257, where he stated that the law did not apply to alien laborers engaged in altering the American Embassy in London. The absence of any dis inction between citizen and alien labor indicates to us that the statute was intended to apply only to those places where the labor conditions of both citizen and alien employees are a probable concern of Congress. Such places do not include foreign countries such as Iraq and Iran.2

Second. The legislative history of the Eight Hour Law reveals that concern with domestic labor conditions led Congress to limit hours of work. The genesis of the present statute was the Act of June 25, 1868, 15 Stat. 77, which was apparently aimed at unemployment resulting from decreased construction in government navy yards. Congressional Globe, 40th Cong., 2d Sess., Part I, p. 335. In 1892, when the coverage of this Act was extended to employees of government contractors and when criminal

Page 287

penalties were added, 27 Stat. 340, the considerations before Congress were domestic unemployment, the influx of cheap foreign labor, and the need for improved labor conditions in this country. H.R.Rep. 1267, 52d Cong., 1st Sess. The purpose of the new legislation was to remedy the defects in the Act of 1868. 23 Cong.Rec. 5723.

The Act was amended in 1912, 37 Stat. 137, to include 'every contract.' (Italics supplied.) The insertion of the word 'every' was designed to remedy a misinterpretation according to which the Act did not apply to work performed on private property by government contractors. 48 Cong.Rec. 381, 385, 394—95. Nothing in the legislative history supports the conclusion of respondent and the court below that 'every contract' must of necessity, by virtue of the broadness of the language, include contracts for work to be performed in foreign countries.3 A contrary inference must be drawn, we think, from a 1913 amendment which extended the law to cover persons employed 'to perform services similar to those of laborers and mechanics in connection with dredging or rock excavation in any river or harbor of the United States or of the...

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256 practice notes
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register March 30, 2009
    • March 30, 2009
    ...intent appears, is meant to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.') (quoting Foley Bros. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, 285 (1949)). Alliance further argued that because NHTSA must consider only domestic impacts, it must ``develop some mechanism for scaling down th......
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    • July 23, 2004
    ...of domestic statutes "is based on the assumption that Congress is primarily concerned with domestic conditions." Foley Bros. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, 285, 69 S.Ct. 575, 577, 93 L.Ed. 680 (1949); see also Smith v. United States, 507 U.S. 197, 206-07 n. 5, 113 S.Ct. 1178, 1184 n. 5, 122 L.Ed......
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    ...jurisdiction of the United States.' " Aramco, supra, 499 U.S., at ----, 111 S.Ct., at 1230 (quoting Foley Bros., Inc. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, 285, 69 S.Ct. 575, 577, 93 L.Ed. 680 (1949)). Applying that canon in Aramco, we held that the version of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ......
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    ...on other grounds by Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 163 L.Ed.2d 1097 (2006) (citing Foley Bros., Inc. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, 284–285, 69 S.Ct. 575, 93 L.Ed. 680 (1949) ). Courts therefore "assume that Congress legislates against the backdrop of the presumption again......
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252 cases
  • U.S. v. Delgado-Garcia, No. 03-3060.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • July 23, 2004
    ...of domestic statutes "is based on the assumption that Congress is primarily concerned with domestic conditions." Foley Bros. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, 285, 69 S.Ct. 575, 577, 93 L.Ed. 680 (1949); see also Smith v. United States, 507 U.S. 197, 206-07 n. 5, 113 S.Ct. 1178, 1184 n. 5, 122 L.Ed......
  • Hartford Fire Insurance Co v. California Merrett Underwriting Agency Management Limited v. California, Nos. 91-1111
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    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 28, 1993
    ...jurisdiction of the United States.' " Aramco, supra, 499 U.S., at ----, 111 S.Ct., at 1230 (quoting Foley Bros., Inc. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, 285, 69 S.Ct. 575, 577, 93 L.Ed. 680 (1949)). Applying that canon in Aramco, we held that the version of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ......
  • Ga. Aquarium, Inc. v. Pritzker, Civil Action No. 1:13–CV–3241–AT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • September 28, 2015
    ...on other grounds by Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 163 L.Ed.2d 1097 (2006) (citing Foley Bros., Inc. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, 284–285, 69 S.Ct. 575, 93 L.Ed. 680 (1949) ). Courts therefore "assume that Congress legislates against the backdrop of the presumption again......
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    ...with a presumption that federal statutes "apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States." Foley Bros. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, 285, 69 S.Ct. 575, 93 L.Ed. 680 (1949). The U.S. Supreme Court has established a two-step framework for analyzing questions of extraterritori......
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