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Steiner v. Mitchell

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued November 16, 1955 ; January 30, 1956

No. 22

Opinion

 [*248]  [**331]  [***269]    MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case raises an issue of coverage under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, with respect to work performed before or after the direct or productive labor for which the worker is primarily paid.

 [****3]  The precise question is whether workers in a battery plant must be paid as a part of their "principal" activities for the time incident to changing clothes at the beginning of the shift and showering at the end, where they must make extensive use of dangerously caustic and toxic materials, and are compelled by circumstances, including vital considerations of health and hygiene, to change clothes and to shower in facilities which state law requires their employer to provide, or whether these activities are "preliminary" or "postliminary" within the meaning of the Portal-to-Portal Act and, therefore, not to be included in measuring the work time for which compensation is required under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Secretary of Labor, contending that these activities are so covered, brought this action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to enjoin petitioners from violating the overtime and recordkeeping requirements  [***270]  of Sections 7 and 11 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, in the employment of production workers, and from violating Section 15 (a) (1) of the Act by making interstate shipments of the goods produced [****4]  by such workers.

The District Court gave judgment for the plaintiff, and the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. 215 F. 2d 171. Because of the importance of the interpretation of the portal-to-portal provisions in the administration of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and because of a conflict between the circuits on the subject, Mitchell v.  [*249]  King Packing Co., 216 F. 2d 618, we granted certiorari in both cases, 349 U.S. 914.

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350 U.S. 247 *; 76 S. Ct. 330 **; 100 L. Ed. 267 ***; 1956 U.S. LEXIS 1743 ****; 29 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P69,711; 12 Wage & Hour Cas. (BNA) 750

STEINER ET AL., DOING BUSINESS AS CUMBERLAND BATTERY MANUFACTURING CO., v. MITCHELL, SECRETARY OF LABOR

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Disposition:  The court affirmed the judgment that time employees in petitioner's battery manufacturing plant spent changing clothes prior to their work shift, and showering thereafter, was compensable within the meaning of the portal-to-portal provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Such activities, necessitated for reasons of health and safety, were an integral part of workers' principal activity and not preliminary or postliminary to it.

CORE TERMS

principal activity, employees, clothes, Fair Labor Standards Act, plant, showering, indispensable, workday, integral part, provisions, custom, Portal-to-Portal Act, collective-bargaining, circumstances, commence, coverage, battery, minutes, acid

Business & Corporate Compliance, Wage & Hour Laws, Statutory Application, Portal-to-Portal Act, Labor & Employment Law, Scope & Definitions, General Overview, Overtime & Work Periods