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The purpose and policy of the Norris-LaGuardia Act (Act), respecting the jurisdiction of the federal courts is set forth in §§ 4 and 7 of the Act, 29 U.S.C.S. §§ 104 and 107. The former deprives those courts of jurisdiction to issue an injunction against, inter alia, giving publicity to the existence of, or the facts involved in, any labor dispute, whether by advertising, speaking, patrolling, or by any other method not involving fraud or violence; against assembling peaceably to act or to organize to act in promotion of interests in a labor dispute; against advising or notifying any person of an intention to do any of the acts specified; against agreeing with other persons to do any of the acts specified.
Respondent filed an action seeking an injunction restraining petitioners, and petitioners' agents, from picketing respondent's stores. Petitioners had requested respondent to adopt a policy of employing Black clerks in certain of respondent's stores in the course of personnel changes. Petitioners had caused one person to patrol in front of one of respondent's stores on one day carrying a placard urging Blacks not to shop where no Blacks were employed. The trial court ruled that the dispute between petitioners and respondent was not a labor dispute within the meaning of § 13 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act (Act), 29 U.S.C.S. § 113, and issued respondent an injunction. The court of appeals affirmed. Petitioners sought review.
Was the dispute between the petitioners and respondent a labor dispute within the meaning of Norris-LaGuardia Act (Act), 29 U.S.C.S. § 113, thereby depriving the courts of jurisdiction to issue an injunction?
The Court noted that under 29 U.S.C.S. § 113(c), a case shall be held to involve or grow out of a labor dispute when the case involved persons who were engaged in the same industry, trade, craft, or occupation or had direct or indirect interests therein, or when the case involved any conflicting or competing interest in a labor dispute of persons participating or interested therein, and characterizing a person or association as participating or interested in a labor dispute if relief was sought against him or it and if he or it has a direct or indirect interest therein. Moreover, the Act defined the term "labor dispute" as including any controversy concerning terms or conditions of employment, regardless of whether or not the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee. Thus, in this case, the Court held that the controversy at issue was a labor dispute as defined by the Act, even though petitioners were not employees of respondent. Since the dispute was a labor dispute within the meaning Norris-LaGuardia Act (Act), 29 U.S.C.S. § 113, a federal court was deprived of jurisdiction to issue an injunction, except after hearing sworn testimony in open court in support of allegations of the complaint, and upon findings of fact to the effect that unlawful acts have been threatened and will be committed unless restrained. The Court held that it had been error for the district court to not have complied with the provisions of the Act.