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VERMILYA-BROWN CO., INC. V. CONNELL, 335 U. S. 377 (1948)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Vermilya-Brown Co., Inc. v. Connell, 335 U.S. 377 (1948)

Vermilya-Brown Co., Inc. v. Connell

No. 22

Argued October 15, 1948

Decided December 6, 1948

335 U.S. 377


If otherwise applicable, the Fair Labor Standards Act covers employees of American contractors engaged in the construction of a military base for the United States in an area in Bermuda leased by Great Britain to the United States for 99 years, even though the leased area is under the sovereignty of Great Britain and is not territory of the United States in a political sense. Pp. 335 U. S. 378-390.

1. The question whether the Act applies in this area is not a political question beyond the competence of courts to decide. P. 335 U. S. 380.

2. Under the power granted by the Constitution, Art. IV, § 3, cl. 2, to make "all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States," Congress has power to regulate labor contracts where the incidents regulated occur in areas under the control, though not within the territorial jurisdiction or sovereignty of the United States. P. 335 U. S. 381.

3. Under the terms of the particular lease under which this area was leased by Great Britain to the United States, the United States is authorized by the lessor to provide for maximum hours and minimum wages for employers and employees within the area. Pp. 335 U. S. 382-383.

4. Neither the lack of specific reference to leased areas in the legislative history of the Fair Labor Standards Act nor the fact that this particular Bermuda base was acquired after the passage of the Act prevents the Act from covering such areas. Pp. 335 U. S. 383-385.

5. In the circumstances of this case and in the light of the broad purpose of the Act, of the fact that the Act applies to far-off islands whose economy differs markedly from our own, and of the fact that Congress has extended the coverage of other acts to such bases, the word "possession," used by Congress to define the geographical coverage of this Act, is construed as making the Act applicable to employer-employee relationships in the area of foreign territory on Bermuda under lease for a military base. Pp. 335 U. S. 386-390.

164 F.2d 924 affirmed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 335 U. S. 378

Certain employees of American contractors engaged in the construction of a military base for the United States in an area on Bermuda leased by Great Britain to the United States sued for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. On defendants motion for a summary judgment, the District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground that the applicability of the Act depended upon a political question outside of judicial power. 73 F.Supp. 860. The Court of Appeals reversed. 164 F.2d 924. This Court granted certiorari. 333 U.S. 859. Affirmed, p. 335 U. S. 390.

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