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Mitchell v. Joyce Agency Inc.

March 29, 1954


Author: Schnackenberg

Before MAJOR, Chief Judge, and SWAIM and SCHNACKENBERG, Circuit Judges.


This is an appeal by the defendant, Joyce Agency, Inc., from a judgment entered on May 7, 1953, by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, finding that the defendant has violated sections 7 and 15(a)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, Act of June 25, 1938, c. 676, 52 Stat. 1060; 29 U.S.C.A. § 201 et seq., as amended, 63 Stat. 910, and ordering, pursuant to section 17, that the defendant be enjoined from further violating the provisions of section 15(a)(2) of the Act.

The question for decision is whether defendant's employees were engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce at four warehouses of Goldblatt Bros. and at defendant's central office, so as to bring them within the coverage of the act.

From the parties' stipulation of facts the following situation appears to have existed at all times hereinafter mentioned.

Defendant is an Illinois corporation with its central office at 343 South Dearborn Street, Chicago. It engages in the business of furnishing watchman, guard, detective, fire inspection and shopping service to Goldblatt Bros. Inc., hereinafter called "Goldblatt", and employs 72 persons.

Goldblatt owns and operates a chain of 14 retail department stores. Of these stores, 10 are in the city of Chicago and one in each of the cities of Joliet, Illinois, Hammond, Gary, and South Bend, Indiana. It has a central office in Chicago, Illinois, where the administrative work in connection with Goldblatt's organization is performed, including the purchase of various kinds of merchandise usually found in a large department store. To service its 14 department stores, Goldblatt maintains in Chicago, Illinois, warehouses at 3913 South Wentworth Avenue, 3161 South Ashland Avenue, 201 East 63rd Street, and 328 South Wabash Avenue. At these warehouses goods are received and stored and thereafter shipped to the defendant's various retail stores. Most of the goods received are from points outside Illinois and a substantial part of the goods shipped to retail stores is to those located in Indiana. At one of the warehouses, which is known as the Ashland warehouse, there are also a furniture renovating shop, a radio and television clinic, a carpet and linoleum department, and a sewing machine department, as well as a garage where nine persons are employed by Goldblatt in maintaining its motor transportation fleet.

Defendant's employees include guards and watchmen who guard the warehouses and their contents against all risks, including fire, and the loading and unloading of goods on the loading platforms of the warehouses, check all packages being carried out, keep records of the names of people working after closing hours for the use of the watchmen, open railroad doors to receive freight cars during the night, control ingress and egress of trucks in and out of the garage, and about 5 A.M. check out a truck carrying advertising material to the Indiana stores. Certain guards check the locks and seals on trucks before permitting them to unload or to leave the warehouses when loaded. Guards performing this particular service will be hereinafter referred to as the "seal-checking guards". Defendant's employees do not physically handle the goods received or shipped, except insofar as they may handle stolen goods recovered by them, valued at approximately $300.00 per year.

The furniture renovating shop reconditions, upholsters, repairs, replaces broken parts, assembles, refinishes and polishes furniture which has been damaged while on display in the stores or in transit. The clinic removes television and radio sets from their cases, repairs new, display and customers' sets. The carpet and linoleum department cuts carpets and linoleums to size, edges and binds carpeting and prepares carpets and linoleum for laying. The sewing machine shop unpacks sewing machines and their accessories and cabinets, whereupon it attaches the accessories to the machines and the latter are tested and then installed in cabinets or portable cases.

Defendant has two watchmen at Goldblatt's Lexington bakery and the parties agree that their activities constitute production of goods for commerce and hence they are covered by the act.

Defendant employs about ten persons in its central office. They perform administrative work in connection with defendant's furnishing watchman, guard, detective, fire inspection and shopping service to Goldblatt. They hire, assign and direct the work of all employees employed by defendant in Goldblatt's warehouses and stores. At the central office employees maintain all the books and records in connection with defendant's business. Defendant's payroll is kept there and from there weekly bills are sent to Goldblatt for the payroll plus social security and unemployment compensation contributions, the latter of which is sent by defendant to the State of Illinois or the State of Indiana and the United States Collector of Internal Revenue. At the central office, as a part of her duties, one employee communicates with the various employees of defendant stationed in the Goldblatt warehouses and stores and advises them when a truck will arrive at a warehouse after closing time. When a bad check is cashed in a Goldblatt store, that fact is telephoned to this woman, who, in turn, telephones the same information to defendant's detectives in all Goldblatt stores. There is a direct telephone line from the central office to all Goldblatt stores and warehouses.

Counsel for both parties have in their briefs treated the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as subsequently amended, including the 1949 amendment to section 3 thereof, 29 U.S.C.A. § 203, as governing this case.

Under the plain language of the act we are convinced that plaintiff was required to show that Goldblatt was engaged in the production of goods for interstate commerce and that defendant's employees now under consideration were engaged in occupations directly essential to such production or that they were employees engaged in interstate commerce. Engebretsen v. E. J. Albrecht Co., 7 Cir., 150 F.2d 602, at page 604.

Plaintiff contends that the Goldblatt warehouse employees are engaged in "handling" and "working on" goods intended for interstate shipment, which, under the definition of "produced" in section 3(j) and the decisions of this court and of the United States Supreme Court, constitutes "production of goods for commerce", and that the employees of defendant, which furnishes the guard, watchman, detective, and fire inspection service for these warehouses, are engaged in a "closely related" process or occupation ...

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