Opp Cotton Mills, Inc. v. Administrator, 312 U.S. 126 (1941)

Author: U.S. Supreme Court

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Opp Cotton Mills, Inc. v. Administrator, 312 U.S. 126 (1941)

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Opp Cotton Mills, Inc. v. Administrator,

Wage and Hour Division, Department of Labor
No. 330

Argued December 20, 1940
Decided February 3, 1941
312 U.S. 126



1. Wage and hours provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as applied to manufacturers of textile goods for interstate commerce, held within the commerce power and consistent with the Fifth and Tenth Amendments. United States v. Darby, ante, p. 100. P. 142.

2. In the exertion of its legislative powers, Congress may provide that administrative findings of fact, made in conformity to previously adopted legislative standards and definitions of Congressional policy, shall be prerequisite to the operation of its statutory command. P. 144.

The adoption of the declared policy by Congress and its definition of the circumstances in which its command is to be effective constitute the performance, in the constitutional sense, of the legislative function.

3. Where the standards set up for the guidance of the administrative agency, the procedure which it is directed to follow, and the record of its action which is required by the statute to be kept, or which is in fact preserved, are such that Congress, the courts, and the public can ascertain whether the agency has conformed to the standards which Congress has prescribed, there is no failure of performance of the legislative function. P. 144.

4. The Fair Labor Standards Act, to the extent that it authorizes the Administrator and the industry committees appointed by him to classify industries and fix minimum wages, is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. Pp. 142, 145.

The Act declares the policy of Congress to raise the minimum wage to the 40 cents per hour limit "as rapidly as economically feasible without substantially curtailing employment." It directs that wage rates shall be determined with due regard to economic and competitive conditions, and shall be such as will not substantially curtail employment in the industry. As prerequisites to classification within an industry, the committee and the Administrator must determine that classification is necessary for the purpose of fixing for each class the highest minimum wage rate (not in excess of 40 cents an hour) that will not substantially curtail employment in such class and will not give a competitive advantage to any group in the industry. In making these determinations, the committee and the Administrator must consider, "among other relevant factors," competitive conditions as affected by transportation, living and production costs, and the wage scale for comparable work established by collective bargaining labor agreements, and by employers who voluntarily maintain minimum wage standards in the industry.

5. Under this Act, § 8(a)-(d), an industry committee acts as an investigating body with duty to report its recommendations to the Administrator. Its report is the basis of proceedings before the Administrator under § 8(d), which are judicial in character, with provisions for notice and full hearing. P. 147.

The issue to be determined by the Administrator upon the hearing is whether the recommendations of the committee

are made in accordance with law, are supported by the evidence adduced at the hearing, and, taking into consideration the same factors as are required to be considered by the industry committee, will carry out the purposes of this section.

No wage is fixed which is not recommended by the committee, and not then without appropriate hearing, findings, and order by the Administrator.

6. The preliminary definition of an industry made by the Administrator when he appoints an industry committee under § 5(a) of the Act -- distinguished from the definition to be made in the final order fixing the wage, § 8(f) -- may be revised by him while the investigation is pending before the committee, but the committee’s report must be based on the amended definition. P. 147.

7. In defining the textile industry as including cotton, silk, and rayon products, the Administrator took into account the competitive interrelationship of the fabrics included and the interchangeability of the looms employed in producing them, and, in excluding the woolen industry, he took account of its competitive relationships with the products included and the different nature of the establishments, labor forces, and wage structures associated with the two types of product. Held consistent with the provisions and purpose of the statute. P. 149.

8. The composition of the industry committee in this case satisfies the requirements of § 5(b) of the statute. P. 150.

The requirement that the administrator give "due regard" to geographical considerations is not a requirement for a mathematical geographical apportionment of the committee. It calls for the exercise of discretion by the Administrator in selecting, with the purposes of the Act in mind, a committee on which the geographically distributed interests of the industry shall be fairly represented.

9. An industry committee engaged in investigations with a view to recommending a minimum wage is not required by the Act to conduct a quasi-judicial proceeding upon notice and hearing. P. 151.

10. The demands of due process do not require a hearing at the initial stage, or at any particular point, or at more than one point, in an administrative proceeding so long as the requisite hearing is held before the final order becomes effective. P. 152.

The proceedings before the Administrator as provided by § 8(d) satisfy the requirements of due process without further requirement, which the statute omits, of a hearing on notice before the committee.

11. The command of § 8(d) that the Administrator, as a prerequisite to a wage order, find that the recommendations of the committee "are made in accordance with law" does not extend to a review of the evidence and hearings before the committee or an investigation of the mental processes by which committee members reached their conclusion to recommend the minimum wage, or extend beyond inquiry upon evidence before the Administrator whether the requirements of the statute and rules of the Administrator as to the composition of the committee, the definition of the industry, and the actions required to be taken by the committee have been observed. P. 153.

12. Such being the function of the committee, it is immaterial that, in this case, substitutes were appointed for two of its members in the course of its deliberations, it not appearing that they did not consider the evidence taken and the proceedings had before their appointments. P. 153.

13. A party who appeared before the Administrator, was heard, introduced evidence, and was given opportunity to introduce more, has no ground to complain that notice of the hearing, given 40 days previously and in conformity with the statute, was inadequate. P. 153.

14. Persons interested in a wage hearing before the Administrator are sufficiently informed of the matter in issue by the report and recommendation of the industry committee, upon which the hearing is based. P. 153.

15. There was no error or want of due process in permitting the industry committee to appear before the Administrator by counsel and to offer evidence in support of its recommendations, or in permitting members of the staff of the Wage and Hour Division to give testimony. P. 154.

16. The evidence upon which the Administrator’s findings may be based is not limited to such as would be competent in a court of law. It includes relevant statistical and economic data in published reports of investigations by governmental agencies. P. 154.

In a court of law, if evidence of this character is admitted without objection, it must be accorded "its natural probative effect, as if it were in law admissible."

111 F.2d 23 affirmed.

Certiorari, 311 U.S. 631, to review a judgment sustaining an order fixing a uniform minimum wage for the textile industry under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The proceeding in the court below was begun, pursuant to § 10 of the statute, by the petition of Opp Cotton Mills, Inc., to have the order set aside, and for other relief. Numerous other manufacturers of cotton goods became parties by intervention.


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Chicago: U.S. Supreme Court, "Syllabus," Opp Cotton Mills, Inc. v. Administrator, 312 U.S. 126 (1941) in 312 U.S. 126 312 U.S. 127–312 U.S. 133. Original Sources, accessed May 28, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZRRA3NGE3AARH3.

MLA: U.S. Supreme Court. "Syllabus." Opp Cotton Mills, Inc. v. Administrator, 312 U.S. 126 (1941), in 312 U.S. 126, pp. 312 U.S. 127–312 U.S. 133. Original Sources. 28 May. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZRRA3NGE3AARH3.

Harvard: U.S. Supreme Court, 'Syllabus' in Opp Cotton Mills, Inc. v. Administrator, 312 U.S. 126 (1941). cited in 1941, 312 U.S. 126, pp.312 U.S. 127–312 U.S. 133. Original Sources, retrieved 28 May 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZRRA3NGE3AARH3.