The matter in controversy is whether the case made by the pleadings involves or grows out of a labor dispute within the meaning of § 13 of the Norris-La Guardia Act.
The respondent, by bill filed in the District Court of the District of Columbia, sought an injunction restraining the petitioners and their agents from picketing its stores and engaging in other activities injurious to its business. The petitioners answered, the cause was heard upon bill and answer, and an injunction was awarded. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the decree.
The following facts alleged in the bill are admitted by the answer. Respondent, a Delaware corporation, operates 255 retail grocery, meat, and vegetable stores, a warehouse and a bakery in the District of Columbia and employs both white and colored persons. April 3, 1936, it opened a new store at 1936 Eleventh Street, N.W., installing personnel having an acquaintance with the trade in the vicinity. Petitioner, The New Negro Alliance, is a corporation composed of colored persons, organized for the mutual improvement of its members and the promotion of civic, educational, benevolent, and charitable enterprises. The individual petitioners are officers of the corporation. The relation of employer and employes does not exist between the respondent and the petitioners or any of them. The petitioners are not engaged in any business competitive with that of the respondent, and the officers, members, or representatives of the Alliance are not engaged in the same business or occupation as the respondent or its employes.
As to other matters of fact, the state of the pleadings may be briefly summarized. The bill asserts: the petitioners have made arbitrary and summary demands upon the respondent that it engage and employ colored persons in managerial and sales positions in the new store and in various other stores; it is essential to the conduct of the business that respondent employ experienced persons in its stores and compliance with the arbitrary demands of defendants would involve the discharge of white employes and their replacement with colored; it is imperative that respondent be free in the selection and control of persons employed by it without interference by the petitioners
The bill further alleges that the petitioners and their authorized representatives "have unlawfully conspired with each other to picket, patrol, boycott, and ruin the Plaintiff's business in said stores, and particularly in the store located at 1936 Eleventh Street, Northwest" and, "in an effort to fulfill their threats of coercion and intimidation, actually have caused the said store to be picketed or patrolled during hours of business of the plaintiff, by their members, representatives, officers, agents, servants,
The bill states: "As evidence of the widespread and concerted action planned by the Defendants herein, they have caused to be placed or have permitted to appear in the Washington Tribune . .. the following statements . . ." There follow quotations from articles appearing in the newspaper purporting to report meetings of the Alliance and speeches made thereat. There is no statement that the facts reported in the articles are true. The answer denies that any of the petitioners is connected with or exercises any control over the Washington Tribune or caused or permitted that newspaper to publish any article or news item whatsoever or in any way acted in concert with the newspaper in those publications.
The bill asserts that petitioners and their representatives, officers, and agents, unlawfully conspired to picket, boycott, and ruin the respondent's business in its stores, particularly the store at 1936 Eleventh Street. This is denied by the answer.
The bill says that the described conduct of petitioners will continue until respondent complies with petitioners' demands; is and will continue to be dangerous to the life and health of persons on the highway, to property thereon, and to respondent's employes, its property, and business and will cause respondent irreparable injury; the petitioners' acts are unlawful, constitute a conspiracy in
The case, then, as it stood for judgment, was this: The petitioners requested the respondent to adopt a policy of employing Negro clerks in certain of its stores in the course of personnel changes; the respondent ignored the request and the petitioners caused one person to patrol in front of one of the respondent's stores on one day carrying a placard which said: "Do Your Part! Buy Where You Can Work! No Negroes Employed Here!" and caused or threatened a similar patrol of two other stores of respondent. The information borne by the placard was true. The patrolling did not coerce or intimidate respondent's customers; did not physically obstruct, interfere with, or harass persons desiring to enter the store, the picket acted in an orderly manner, and his conduct did not cause crowds to gather in front of the store.
The trial judge was of the view that the laws relating to labor disputes had no application to the case. He entered a decree enjoining the petitioners and their agents and employes from picketing or patrolling any of the respondent's stores, boycotting or urging others to boycott respondent; restraining them, whether by inducements, threats, intimidation or actual or threatened physical force from hindering any person entering respondent's places of business, from destroying or damaging or threatening to destroy or damage respondent's property and from aiding or abetting others in doing any of the prohibited things. The Court of Appeals thought that the dispute was not a labor dispute within the Norris-LaGuardia Act because it did not involve terms and conditions of employment such as wages, hours, unionization or betterment of working conditions, and that the trial court, therefore, had jurisdiction to issue the injunction. We think the conclusion that the dispute was not a labor dispute
Subsection (a) of § 13 provides: "A case shall be held to involve or to grow out of a labor dispute when the case involves persons who are engaged in the same industry, trade, craft, or occupation; or have direct or indirect interests therein; . . . or when the case involves any conflicting or competing interests in a `labor dispute' (as hereinafter defined) of `persons participating or interested' therein (as hereinafter defined)." Subsection (b) characterizes a person or association as participating or interested in a labor dispute "if relief is sought against him or it and if he or it . . . has a direct or indirect interest therein, . . ." Subsection (c) defines the term "labor dispute" as including "any controversy concerning terms or conditions of employment, . . . regardless of whether or not the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee." These definitions plainly embrace the controversy which gave rise to the instant suit and classify it as one arising out of a dispute defined as a labor dispute. They leave no doubt that The New Negro Alliance and the individual petitioners are, in contemplation of the Act, persons interested in the dispute.
In quoting the clauses of § 13 we have omitted those that deal with disputes between employers and employes and disputes between associations of persons engaged in a particular trade or craft, and employers in the same industry. It is to be noted, however, that the inclusion in the definitions of such disputes, and the persons interested in them, serves to emphasize the fact that the quoted portions were intended to embrace controversies
The Act does not concern itself with the background or the motives of the dispute. The desire for fair and equitable conditions of employment on the part of persons of any race, color, or persuasion, and the removal of discriminations against them by reason of their race or religious beliefs is quite as important to those concerned as fairness and equity in terms and conditions of employment can be to trade or craft unions or any form of labor organization or association. Race discrimination by an employer may reasonably be deemed more unfair and less excusable than discrimination against workers on the ground of union affiliation. There is no justification in the apparent purposes or the express terms of the Act for limiting its definition of labor disputes and cases arising therefrom by excluding those which arise with respect to discrimination in terms and conditions of employment based upon differences of race or color.
The purpose and policy of the Act respecting the jurisdiction of the federal courts is set forth in §§ 4 and 7. The former deprives those courts of jurisdiction to issue an injunction against, inter alia, giving publicity to the existence of, or the facts involved in, any labor dispute, whether by advertising, speaking, patrolling, or by any other method not involving fraud or violence; against assembling peaceably to act or to organize to act in promotion of interests in a labor dispute; against advising or notifying any person of an intention to do any of the acts specified; against agreeing with other persons to do any of the acts specified.
The legislative history of the Act demonstrates that it was the purpose of the Congress further to extend the prohibitions of the Clayton Act
The decree must be reversed and the cause remanded to the District Court for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.
MR. JUSTICE CARDOZO took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS, dissenting.
MR. JUSTICE BUTLER and I cannot accept the view that a "labor dispute" emerges whenever an employer fails to respond to a communication from A, B and C — irrespective of their race, character, reputation, fitness, previous or present employment — suggesting displeasure because of his choice of employes and their expectation that in the future he will not fail to select men of their complexion.
It seems unbelievable that, in all such circumstances, Congress intended to inhibit courts from extending protection long guaranteed by law and thus, in effect, encourage mobbish interference with the individual's liberty of action. Under the tortured meaning now attributed to the words "labor dispute," no employer — merchant, manufacturer, builder, cobbler, housekeeper or what not — who
Design thus to promote strife, encourage trespass and stimulate intimidation, ought not to be admitted where, as here, not plainly avowed. The ultimate result of the view now approved to the very people whom present petitioners claim to represent, it may be, is prefigured by the grievous plight of minorities in lands where the law has become a mere political instrument.