MR. JUSTICE MURPHY delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is another case in which we must define the scope of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Petitioners, together with others not parties to this petition, brought this action against respondent and a subsidiary under § 16 (b) of the Act for the recovery of unpaid minimum wages, overtime compensation, and liquidated damages. Respondent moved to dismiss as to all the plaintiffs, and the motion as to petitioners was
The relevant facts alleged in the complaint as amended, which are to be taken as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss, may be summarized as follows:
Respondent owns and operates a toll road and a drawbridge which is part of the road. The toll road connects United States Highway No. 17, an interstate arterial Highway, with Fort George Island, which lies off the northern coast of Florida, being separated from the mainland by the Intercoastal Waterway. The toll road crosses the Waterway at Sisters' Creek by means of the drawbridge, which must be raised frequently to permit the passage of boats engaged in interstate commerce. The toll road constitutes an integral part of the highway system of the United States and provides the only means of land communication between Fort George Island and the Florida mainland. It is used extensively by persons and vehicles traveling between the island and points outside Florida in interstate commerce. Mail to and from other States, as well as goods produced outside Florida and consigned to merchants on the island, are transported over the toll road. Each of the petitioners was employed by respondent in connection with the operation of the toll road and drawbridge. Overstreet operated the drawbridge, raising it for the passage of boats through Sisters' Creek and lowering it for the resumption of traffic over the road; Brazle was engaged in maintenance and repair work on the road and the bridge; and Garvin sold and collected toll tickets from "vehicles using said toll road in interstate commerce." Petitioners received neither the
We think these allegations bring petitioners within the coverage of the Act and entitle them to recover if proved.
Our starting point is respondent's concession that no question of constitutional power is involved, but only the ascertainment of Congressional intent, that is, did Congress mean to include employees such as petitioners within the Act. In arriving at that intent it must be remembered that Congress did not choose to exert its power to the full by regulating industries and occupations which affect interstate commerce. See Kirschbaum Co. v. Walling, 316 U.S. 517, 522-23; Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., 317 U.S. 564. Respondent contends that petitioners are in this category, that their activities are local and at most only affect commerce. But the policy of Congressional abnegation with respect to occupations affecting commerce is no reason for narrowly circumscribing the phrase "engaged in commerce." We said in the Jacksonville Paper Co. case, supra, "It is clear that the purpose of the Act was to extend federal control in this field throughout the farthest reaches of the channels of interstate commerce." And in determining what constitutes "commerce" or "engaged in commerce" we are guided by practical considerations. Jacksonville Paper Co. case, supra, and see also Shanks v. Delaware, L. & W.R. Co., 239 U.S. 556, 558, dealing with what will shortly be pointed out as a similar question in the coverage of the Federal Employers' Liability Act.
A practical test of what "engaged in interstate commerce" means has been evolved in cases arising under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (45 U.S.C. §§ 51 et seq.) which, before the 1939 amendment (see 53 Stat. 1404), applied only where injury was suffered while the carrier was engaging in interstate or foreign commerce and
We think that practical test should govern here.
The allegations of petitioners' complaint satisfy this practical test. The road and bridge allegedly afford passage to an extensive movement of goods and persons between Florida and other States, and moreover the drawbridge presents an obstacle to interstate traffic by water over the Intercoastal Waterway if not properly operated. The operational and maintenance activities of petitioners are vital to the proper functioning of these structures as instrumentalities of interstate commerce. The services of Overstreet are necessary to prevent the drawbridge from being either a barrier to interstate navigation or else a gap in the vehicular way. Without the services of Brazle the facilities would fall into disrepair, and both operation and maintenance would seem to depend upon Garvin's collecting the toll from users of the structures. The work of each petitioner in providing a means of interstate transportation and communication is so intimately related to interstate commerce "as to be in practice and in legal contemplation a part of it" (Pedersen's case, supra) and justifies regarding petitioners as "engaged in commerce" within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Federal Employers' Liability Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act are not strictly analogous, but they are similar. Both are aimed at protecting commerce from injury through adjustment of the master-servant relationship, the one by liberalizing the common law rules pertaining to negligence and the other by eliminating substandard working conditions. We see no persuasive reason
The Henderson and Detroit bridge cases, supra, do not affect our conclusion. We have pointed out that decisions such as those, dealing with various assertions of state or federal power in the commerce field, are not particularly helpful in determining the scope of the Act. Kirschbaum Co. v. Walling, supra, pp. 520-21; Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., supra. But even if we accept the premise of the Bridge cases and regard respondent as not engaged in commerce, the result is not changed. The nature of the employer's business is not determinative, because as we have repeatedly said, the application of the Act depends upon the character of the employees' activities. Kirschbaum Co. v. Walling, supra, p. 524; Warren-Bradshaw Drilling Co. v. Hall, 317 U.S. 88; Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., supra. The fact that respondent may be subject to state taxation does not imply that it is free from federal regulation or that its road and drawbridge are not instrumentalities of interstate commerce. Petitioners, who are engaged in operating and maintaining respondent's facilities so that there may be interstate passage of persons and goods over them, are so closely related to that interstate movement as a practical matter that we think they must be regarded, under the allegations of their complaint, as "engaged in commerce" within the meaning of §§ 6 and 7 of the Act.
MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS and MR. JUSTICE JACKSON dissent.
Compare the dissenting opinion in Pedersen v. Fitzgerald Construction Co., 262 App. Div. 665, 668, 30 N.Y.S.2d 989, affirmed without opinion, 288 N.Y. 211, 687, 43 N.E.2d 83.