Steiner v. Mitchell


DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

ARGUED: Nov 16, 1955
DECIDED: Jan 30, 1956

Facts of the case


Media for Steiner v. Mitchell

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 16, 1955 in Steiner v. Mitchell

Earl Warren:

Number 22, Morris Steiner, Harry Lightman, Mitchell Magid et al., versus James P. Mitchell, Secretary of Labor.

Cecil Sims:

May it please the --

Earl Warren:

Mr. Sims.

Cecil Sims:

-- Court.

This case arises under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 more frequently referred to as the Wage and Hour Act.

The particular question involves the interpretation of an amendment to the Wage and Hour Act passed in 1947, known as the Portal-to-Portal Amendment to the Wage and Hour Act.

And the question presented involved in the case and under the facts of the case involves the interpretation of Section 4, subsections (1) (2) of the Act in question and stated in the terms of the cases et cetera.

The question is, whether or not, under the Portal-to-Portal Act, the amendment, the time used by the petitioner's employees had its battery manufacturing claim in changing their street clothes into work clothes before punching at the clock at 7:30.

And the time after they had finished their day's work and punched out the clock.

And then went back and removed their clothes in which they were working and took shower baths.

About 30 minutes a day, 10 minutes in the first operation and about 20 minutes in the other, whether or not, that is compensable time.Under the amendment of 1947, the language of which generally speaking provided that -- that it there should not be included in compensable time.

The time spent in certain 'preliminary' and 'postliminary' activities before going to work and after coming from the work, in the absence of a custom or a practice at the petitioners' establishment or any absence of a written contract making those particular activities compensatory.

Earl Warren:

How much time did you say was involved in these two activities?

Cecil Sims:

On each day, there's about 10 minutes at the beginning and change when the employee comes in and takes off their clothes and puts on some work clothes.

That's about 10 minutes.

That's about 20 minutes when he gets off and finishes his work manufacturing the batteries.

And goes in and removes the work clothing and takes a shower bath and gets his street clothing out of his locker and go and -- and leaves the premise, about 30 minutes.

The case, if the Court please, arose by the Secretary of Labor filing a suit in the Federal District Court at Nashville, seeking an injunction.

Because, under the admitted facts of this case, there was no record kept of that particular time of changing clothes or taking a shower bath.

Nor was there any effort to compensate for that time that was consumed on the premises by the petitioners' employees.

Was the change of clothes or the shower bath a safety precaution or health precaution was the requirement of the job and of the work.

Cecil Sims:

Well that, of course, in -- in a sense, it is advisable for a number of reasons as to whether it is a requirement.

In other words, whether you could make batteries in your street clothes and leave without taking a shower bath.

Of course, you could, but there is no dispute and we -- we concede in the argument here.

That it was medically advisable for the employee to change clothes and not work in his street clothes for a number of reasons.

In the first place, there were acids used in the manufacture of batteries which could have destroyed it and he had a question of economy or which might have been to some extent injurious to his health if he continued to wear the same clothes on which he got acids.

The --

Were the -- were the employees instructed to -- to change their clothes that way?

Cecil Sims:

They were not required.

We have a stipulation, if the Court please.