Skidmore v. Swift and Company

PETITIONER: Jim Skidmore, et al.
RESPONDENT: Swift and Company
LOCATION: Fort Worth Stockyards

DOCKET NO.: 12
DECIDED BY: Stone Court (1943-1945)
LOWER COURT:

GRANTED: May 29, 1944
ARGUED: Oct 13, 1944
DECIDED: Dec 04, 1944

ADVOCATES:
Beverly V. Thompson - for the respondent
Curtis McBroom - for the petitioners

Facts of the case

Jim Skidmore and other employees of the Swift & Company packing plant in Fort Worth, Texas were all firemen, elevator operators, or relief firemen who worked eight hours per week, for which they were paid normally. They also spent three-and-a-half to four nights per week in the fire hall, where they were on-call in case of an alarm; however, they were only paid for time spent actually responding to an alarm. The fire hall was equipped with heated and air-conditioned sleeping quarters, along with the equipment for various recreational activities, such as pool, dominoes, etc. The plaintiffs could sleep or be otherwise engaged during the time they spent in the fire hall as long as they were available should there be an alarm. The plaintiffs sued Swift & Company under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and argued that they should be compensated for the time spent in the fire hall even when not directly answering an alarm. They sought to recover around $77,000 in overtime costs, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees. The trial court found that the time spent in the fire hall did not constitute work under the FLSA, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed.

Question

Does the time the plaintiffs spent in the fire hall constitute work under the Fair Labor Standards Act?