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Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company v. Muscoda Local No. 123/Concurrence Jackson

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United States Supreme Court

321 U.S. 590

Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company  v.  Muscoda Local No. 123

 Argued: and Submitted Jan. 13, 14, 1944. --- Decided: March 27, 1944

Mr. Justice JACKSON, concurring.

This case in my view probably does not present any question of law or, if so, it is one with a very obvious answer. When Congress in the Fair Labor Standards Act referred to 'a work week longer than forty hours,' it considered, I assume, that what was a work week in fact should be a work week in law. Therefore, the determination of any particular case does not govern any other, for each establishment and industry stands on its own conditions.

A seasoned and wise rule of this Court makes concurrent findings of two courts below final here in the absence of very exceptional showing of error. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., v. Ray-O-Vac Co., 321 U.S. 275, 64 S.Ct. 593; District of Columbia v. Pace, 320 U.S. 698, 64 S.Ct. 406; Baker v. Schofield, 243 U.S. 114, 118, 37 S.Ct. 333, 334, 61 L.Ed. 626; Williams Manufacturing Co. v. United Shoe Machinery Corp., 316 U.S. 364, 367, 62 S.Ct. 1179, 1181, 86 L.Ed. 1537.

In these cases ore mining companies sought declaratory judgments that miners' travel time in the shafts getting to and from actual mining operations, and some other time, is not to be counted in the work week as defined for overtime purposes in the Fair Labor Standards Act. They alleged that the custom of their mines excluded it, but the trial court considered all the evidence and said, 'The evidence has disclosed no such custom.' The companies also contended that the activity during travel is not in the natural of work. After hearing a mass of conflicting testimony the trial court said of these activities, 'They are performed on the premises of the employer, in the furtherance of the employer's business, with no benefits to the employee (except to aid him in the performance of work for the employer), under conditions created and controlled by the employer, and they involve responsibility to the employer and physical exertion, even though not burdensome, on the part of the employee. No characteristic of work is lacking.' These were found to be the facts by the two courts below and, whatever we might decide if we were a trial court hearing the evidence in the first instance, we cannot with our limited review hold them wrong on this record.

If these facts are accepted, the ruling that such travel time is part of the work week seems manifest. I would affirm on these controlling facts.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).