Mr. Claude H. Rosenstein, of Tulsa, Okl., for petitioner Southland Gasoline Co.
Mr. George A. Mahone, of Baltimore, Md., for petitioner Richardson.
Messrs. O. Bowie Duckett, Jr. and Charles T. Le Viness, 3rd, both of Baltimore, Md., for respondent James Gibbons Co.
Mr. C. D. Atkinson, of Fayetteville, Ark., for respondents Bayley and others.
Messrs. Chas. Fahy, Sol. Gen., Robert L. Stern, Irving J. Levy, and Bessie Margolin, all of Washington, D.C., for the United States as amicus curiae. [319 U.S. 44, 45]
Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
By writs of certiorari these two cases were brought here to resolve the conflict between them over the proper interpretation of section 13(b)( 1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.1
Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.A. 207, relates to the maximum number of hours per week an employer may employ an employee who is engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. 2 The scope of the exemption from the maximum hour standards granted by section 13(b)(1) in turn depends upon the interpretation to be given section 204(a) of the Motor Carrier Act. The portions of that section which are important here are set out below. 3 [319 U.S. 44, 46] These cases turn upon the interpretation to be given the exemption, by section 13(b)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, of employees 'with respect to whom the Interstate Commerce Commission has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of section 204 of the Motor Carrier Act, 1935 (49 U.S.C.A. 304).' In the Southland case, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit construed this to exempt employees of private carriers of property from the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act only after the Interstate Commerce Commission has found need to establish maximum hours for such employees under the authority of section 204(a)(3) of the Motor Carrier Act. Bayley v. Southland Gasoline Co., 131 F.2d 412. The Fourth Circuit in the Gibbons Company case was of the opinion that 'power' in section 13(b) meant the existence of the power and not its actual exercise. 132 F.2d 627; cf. Plunkett v. Abraham Bros. Packing Co., 6 Cir., 129 F.2d 419, 421, C.C. A. 6.
The employers in both cases are concededly private carriers of property, engaged in interstate commerce. All employees are subject to regulation to promote safety of operation under section 204(a)(3). In both cases the employees seek recovery solely for the failure of their employers to pay them the time and a half for overtime as [319 U.S. 44, 47] required by section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act. There is no claim for unpaid overtime compensation after May 1, 1940, the date that the Interstate Commerce Commission first found need to establish reasonable requirements as to maximum hours to promote safety in the operations of private carriers of property by motor vehicle under section 204(a)(3).
The problem of statutory construction posed by this conflict of circuits should not be solved simply by a literal reading of the exemption section of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the delegation of power section of the Motor Carriers Act. Both sections are parts of important general statutes and their particular language should be construed in the light of the purposes which led to the enactment of the entire legislation. United States v. American Trucking Ass'ns, 310 U.S. 534, 542 , 60 S.Ct. 1059, 1063. The words of the sections under consideration are, however, basic data from which to draw the sections' meaning. Section 13(b)(1) exempts from the maximum hour limitation of the Fair Labor Standards Act those employees over whom the Interstate Commerce Commission 'has power to' prescribe maximum hours of service. Section 204(a)(3) certainly gives 'power to' the Commission to establish maximum hours for the employees here involved. There is a limitation on the authority delegated, urged here by the employees as a condition precedent to the existence of the power. This is that the Commission may establish maximum hours only 'if need therefor is found.' Since the employees seek unpaid overtime compensation only for the period prior to a finding of need by the Commission, the employees argue that no 'power' existed in the Commission during the time for which compensation is claimed. We conclude to the contrary. The power to fix maximum hours has existed in the Commission since the enactment of the Motor Carrier Act in 1935. Before that power could be used, it was necessary to make a [319 U.S. 44, 48] finding of need. Such a necessity, however, did not affect the existence of the power. Legislation frequently delegates power subject to a finding of need or necessity for its exercise.