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HODGSON v. BOARD OF EDUC.

June 14, 1972

James D. Hodgson, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff,
v.
Board Of Education, Parsippany-Troy Hills et al., Defendants


Lacey, D. J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LACEY

The Secretary of Labor sues in these several actions to enjoin violations, by certain New Jersey school boards, of the overtime and minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219 (FLSA).

 This matter comes on by way of defendants' various motions for summary judgment and dismissal, all of which were consolidated by my order, raising as they do a common question of law, to wit, whether the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution bars these actions. *fn1"

 
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State. *fn2"

 Defendants essentially contend that these actions, while brought in the name of the Secretary, will in fact benefit defendants' employees and thus are in reality suits by citizens of this State against the defendants which, as subdivisions of the State, can raise the Eleventh Amendment bar. *fn3"

 Plaintiff declares that these suits do not implicate the Eleventh Amendment. His argument follows: the complaint seeks injunctive relief under 29 U.S.C. § 217 to halt defendants' alleged violations of § 15(a) (2) of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C., § 215(a)(2), and to restrain defendants from withholding from certain of its employees payment of minimum wage and overtime compensation in whatever amount may be found by this Court to be due them. *fn4" Section 217 provides as follows:

 
The district courts . . . shall have jurisdiction, for cause shown, to restrain violations of section 215 of this title, including in the case of violations of section 215(a)(2) of this title the restraint of any withholding of payment of minimum wages or overtime compensation found by the court to be due to employees under this chapter . . . .

 The Secretary argues that only he can bring an action under § 217; and that an employee cannot compel its institution. Powell v. Washington Post Co., 105 U.S. App. D.C. 374, 267 F.2d 651, 652 (1959), cert. denied, 360 U.S. 930, 79 S. Ct. 1449, 3 L. Ed. 2d 1544 (1959), is supportive of this position. Finally, the argument goes, it is a suit under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) which Congress provided for the private relief of an aggrieved employee, while § 217 was intended to serve the broad public interest. *fn5" Thus, the Secretary concludes, while incidentally defendants' employees may derive benefit from these actions, their principal thrust is to serve the nation as a whole, and that the broad public good, not merely a narrow private good, will benefit thereby. For the reasons hereinafter set forth, we adopt the Secretary's position and determine the Eleventh Amendment not to be involved in these suits.

 Before dealing with the Eleventh Amendment issue, it is appropriate to put to rest a collateral contention made by the defendants, that Congress in applying to them the FLSA was unaware of, or ignored, the fiscal aspect of its action.

 The FLSA was only made applicable to certain public school employees (as are here involved) in 1966. Defendants herein are not the first to complain about added payroll costs imposed by that statutory change. The legislative history of the amendatory provisions reveals that, incident to amendment, various concerned local school boards, resisting the change, had similarly complained of the additional financial burden cast upon them by the proposed revisions.

 The House of Representatives, in passing the original amendment, commented H.R. Rept. No. 1366, 89th Cong., 2d Sess. (1966), as cited in H.R. Rept. No. 13712, 89th Cong., 2d Sess., 16-17 (1966):

 
Even outweighing the consideration of unfair competition between covered and noncovered enterprises were the needs of the employees of these enterprises. A custodial worker in an educational institution is as much in need of a minimum standard of living as a custodial worker in an aircraft plant. . . .

 The Senate, however, deleted coverage of employees of private and public primary and secondary schools. The Committee report, which recommended such a deletion, noted that 2 U.S. Code Cong. & ...


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