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Law School Case Brief

NLRB v. Hearst Publications - 322 U.S. 111, 64 S. Ct. 851 (1944)


The broad language of the National Labor Relations Act's definitions, which in terms reject conventional limitations on such conceptions as "employee," "employer," and "labor dispute," leaves no doubt that its applicability is to be determined broadly, in doubtful situations, by underlying economic facts rather than technically and exclusively by previously established legal classifications. 


Four petitions were filed with the NLRB for investigation and certification by a local union. The NLRB made findings of fact that the regular, full-time newsboys selling each paper were employees within the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 152, and that questions affecting commerce concerning the effective representation of employees had arisen. The NLRB had designated appropriate units and ordered elections and, after the union was selected, the publishers refused to bargain with it. After finding the publishers to have violated29 U.S.C.S. § 158(1) and (5), the NLRB ordered them to cease and desist from such violations and to collectively bargain with the union upon request. The appellate court refused to enforce the NLRB's orders when it decided that the newsboys were not employees within the meaning of the Act. Certiorari was granted, and the United States Supreme Court reversed the appellate court's decision, holding that the NLRB's findings were not erroneous.


Within the meaning of that term in the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 450, 29 U. S. C. § 152, were the newsboys considered “employees” of the Respondents?




In this case the Board found that the designated newsboys work continuously and regularly, rely upon their earnings for the support of themselves and their families, and have their total wages influenced in large measure by the publishers, who dictate their buying and selling prices, fix their markets and control their supply of papers. Their hours of work and their efforts on the job are supervised and to some extent prescribed by the publishers or their agents. Much of their sales equipment and advertising materials is furnished by the publishers with the intention that it be used for the publisher's benefit. Stating that "the primary consideration in the determination of the applicability of the statutory definition is whether  effectuation of the declared policy and purposes of the Act comprehend securing to the individual the rights guaranteed and protection afforded by the Act," the Board concluded that the newsboys are employees. The record sustains the Board's findings and there is ample basis in the law for its conclusion.

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