Friday, November 15, 2013

Skidmore v. Swift case brief

Skidmore v. Swift case brief summary
323 U.S. 134 (1944)

Petitioner employees sought certiorari review of a judgment from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's denial of the employees' claim for overtime from respondent employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

During the daytime, some of the employees were engaged in general fire-hall duties and in maintaining the firefighting equipment at the employer's packing plant. Other employees operated elevators or acted as relief men in fire duties. The employees also agreed to stay on the employer's premises or within hailing distance three to four nights a week. The employees were not required to perform any specific tasks during the evenings, except to answer fire alarms. In the action that the employees brought to recover overtime for the periods they spent on-call, the district court ruled as a matter of law that the time the employees spent waiting to respond to alarms did not constitute hours worked, which was affirmed on appeal.


  • The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the lower courts' judgments because there was no principle of law that precluded waiting time from also being working time. 
  • The Court held that whether waiting time, with the exclusion of sleeping and eating time, constituted working time was a question of fact that had to be decided based upon the agreements between the parties and all of the surrounding circumstances.

The Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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