NLRB v. Hearst Publications

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
NLRB v. Hearst Publications
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued February 8–9, 1944
Decided April 24, 1944
Full case name National Labor Relations Board v. Hearst Publications, Inc
Citations 322 U.S. 111 (more)
64 S. Ct. 851; 88 L. Ed. 1170; 1944 U.S. LEXIS 1201; 8 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P51,179; 14 L.R.R.M. 614
Prior history Court of Appeals refused to enforce the NLRB's orders, 136 F.2d 608 (reversed).
Reviewing courts have limited review over administrative agencies' interpretation of terms in their organic statutes. The NLRB's finding that the newsboys were employees was subject to deference.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Harlan F. Stone
Associate Justices
Owen J. Roberts · Hugo Black
Stanley F. Reed · Felix Frankfurter
William O. Douglas · Frank Murphy
Robert H. Jackson · Wiley B. Rutledge
Case opinions
Majority Rutledge, joined by Stone, Black, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Jackson
Concurrence Reed
Dissent Roberts
Laws applied
National Labor Relations Act

NLRB v. Hearst Publications, 322 U.S. 111 (1944) was an administrative law case heard before the United States Supreme Court. The case concerned the meaning of the term "employees" in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).


Hearst Publications (Hearst), the publishers of four daily Los Angeles newspapers, refused to bargain collectively with their newsboys. The newsboys filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for certification as a local union. The NLRB found that the newsboys were full-time employees within the meaning of the NLRA and ordered Hearst bargain with the newsboys. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to enforce the order, reasoning that the newsboys were independent contractors, rather than employees.[1]

Decision of the Court[edit]

Justice Rutledge, delivering the opinion of the court, ruled that the NLRB's interpretation of the Act was not erroneous. The court held that when an administrative agency engages in "specific application of a broad statutory term in a proceeding in which the agency administering the statute must determine it initially, the reviewing court's function is limited."[2] The newsboys were employees within the meaning of the Act, with whom Hearst was required to collectively bargain.


Justice Roberts, dissenting, wrote that "the question of who is an employee, so as to make the statute applicable to him, is a question of the meaning of the Act and, therefore, is a judicial and not an administrative question."[3]

National Labor Relations Board v Hearst Publications, Inc 322 U.S. 111 (1944) is a US labor law case, concerning the scope of protection for employees under the National Labor Relations Act 1935.


Newsboys, who distributed papers on the streets of the city of Los Angeles, formed a union to collectively bargain over wages. They claimed they were ‘employees’ under the National Labor Relations Act 1935. They alleged their employers were Hearst Publications Inc, which owned the Los Angeles Examiner and the Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express, as well as the Los Angeles Times. The National Labor Relations Board determined that the newsboys were employees, as they worked continuously, regularly and relied on their earnings to support themselves and their families. The publishers dictated the buying and selling prices, fixed their markets, controlled their supply of papers, supervised their work hours and effort, and gave them sales equipment for the publishers’ benefit. The NLRB then designated the full-time newsboys and ‘checkmen’ to be a bargaining unit within the city, excluding temporary, casual and part-time newsboys and bootjackers. The newspapers argued that under common law standards, their control over the newsboys made them no more than independent contractors, so that they were not ‘employees’ and had no duty to bargain in good faith under the National Labor Relations Act 1935.


The Supreme Court held that the Act’s history, context and purposes should be taken into account when determining whether someone is an employee, not just common law standards, local law or legal classifications made for other purposes. The NLRB’s determination that someone is an employee may not be set aside if it has a reasonable legal basis. Its identification of bargaining units was within its discretion, including its exclusion of suburban newsboys on the ground that they were not in the union.

Rutledge J gave the court’s judgment.[4]

Reed J concurred, and said the NLRB had the definition of ‘employee’ correct.

Roberts J dissented, stating his view that the newsboys were not employees.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NLRB v. Hearst Publications, 322 U.S. 111, 113-15 (1944)
  2. ^ Id. at 131.
  3. ^ Id. at 136.
  4. ^ 322 US 120-134
  5. ^ The so-called "control test" with which common law judges have wrestled to secure precise and ready applications did not escape the difficulties encountered in borderland cases by its reformulation in the Restatement of the Law of Agency § 220. That, even at the common law, the control test and the complex of incidents evolved in applying it to distinguish an "employee" from an "independent contractor," for purposes of vicarious liability in tort, did not necessarily have the same significance in other contexts, compare Lumley v Gye [1853] El. & Bl. 216, and see also the cases collected in 21 A.L.R. 1229 et seq.; 23 A.L.R. 984 et seq.
  6. ^ See, e.g., Stevens, The Test of the Employment Relation (1939) 38 Mich.L.Rev. 188; Steffen, Independent Contractor and the Good Life (1935) 2 U. of Chi.L.Rev. 501; Leidy, Salesmen as Independent Contractors (1938) 28 Mich.L.Rev. 365; N.Y. Law Revision Commission Report, 1939 (1939) Legislative Document No. 65(K).
  7. ^ Compare Stockwell v. Morris, 46 Wyo, 1, 22 P.2d 189, with Auer v. Sinclair Refining Co., 103 N.J.L. 372, 137 A. 555; Schomp v. Fuller Brush Co., 124 N.J.L. 487, 12 A.2d 702; In re Schomp, 126 N.J.L. 368, 19 A.2d 780, with Fuller Brush Co. v. Industrial Comm., 99 Utah 97, 104 P.2d 201; Stover Bedding Co. v. Industrial Comm'n, 99 Utah 423, 107 P.2d 1027, 134 P.2d 1006, with Maltz v. Jackoway-Katz Cap Co., 336 Mo. 1000, 82 S.W.2d 909.
  8. ^ American Steel Foundries Co. v. Tri-City Council, 257 U. S. 184, 257 U. S. 209, cited in H.R.Rep. No. 1147, 74th Cong., 1st Sess., 10; cf. Bakery & Pastry Drivers v. Wohl, 315 U. S. 769.
  9. ^ The practice of self-organization and collective bargaining to resolve labor disputes has for some time been common among such varied types of "independent contractors" as musicians (How Collective Bargaining Works (20th Century Fund, 1942) 848-866; Proceedings of the 47th Annual Convention of the American Federation of Musicians (1942)), actors (see e.g. Collective Bargaining by Actors (1926) Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin No. 402; Harding, The Revolt of the Actors (1929); Ross, Stars and Strikes (1941)), and writers (see, e.g., Rosten, Hollywood (1941); Ross, Stars and Strikes (1941) 48-63), and such atypical "employees" as insurance agents, artists, architects and engineers (see, e.g., Proceedings of the 2d Convention of the UOPWA, C.I.O. (1938); Proceedings of the 3d Convention of the UOPWA, C.I.O. (1940); Handbook of American Trade Unions (1936); Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bull. No. 618, 291-293; Constitution and By-Laws of the IFTEAD of the A.F.L., 1942.)
  10. ^ Control of "physical conduct in the performance of the service" is the traditional test of the "employee relationship" at common law. Cf., e.g., Restatement of the Law of Agency § 220(1).
  11. ^ Sen.Rep. No. 573, 74th Cong., 1st Sess. 7.
  12. ^ Sen.Rep. No. 573, 74th Cong., 1st Sess. 6.
  13. ^ Cf. Phelps Dodge Corp. v. Labor Board, 313 U. S. 177; and compare Drivers' Union v. Lake Valley Co., 311 U. S. 91, with Sen.Rep. No. 573, 74th Cong., 1st Sess. 7.
  14. ^ Compare Labor Board v. Waterman S.S. Corp., 309 U. S. 206; Phelps Dodge Corp. v. Labor Board, 313 U. S. 177.
  15. ^ Cf. South Chicago Coal & Dock Co. v. Bassett, 309 U. S. 251; Lehigh Valley Coal Co. v. Yensavage, 218 F. 547, 552 (C.C.A.)
  16. ^ Lehigh Valley Coal Co. v. Yensavage, 218 F. 547, 552.
  17. ^ E.g., Matter of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, 7 N.L.R.B. 662, 686-690; Matter of KMOX Broadcasting Station, 10 N.L.R.B. 479; Matter of Interstate Granite Corp., 11 N.L.R.B. 1046; Matter of Sun Life Ins. Co., 15 N.L.R.B. 817; Matter of Kelly Co., 34 N.L.R.B. 325; Matter of John Yasek, 37 N.L.R.B. 156.
  18. ^ 44 Stat. 1424, 33 U.S.C. § 901 et seq.
  19. ^ Under § 2(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 1064, 1065, 47 U.S.C. § 152(b).
  20. ^ Full-time newsboys for the Herald includes those who regularly sell to the public five or more editions five or more days per week. Full-time newsboys for the News includes those who regularly sell to the general public the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth, or the sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth editions five or more days per week, or the fourth and earlier editions for at least four hours daily between 4:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. five days per week.
  21. ^ Part-time newsboys for the Herald means those selling less than five editions daily or for less than five days per week.
  22. ^ Established spots are corners at which newsboys sold those papers for at least five or more days per week during at least six consecutive months.
  23. ^ Glendale is included in the Times unit.
  24. ^ Temporary newsboys are those selling for less than thirty-one consecutive days.
  25. ^ Except newsboys selling the Times in Glendale.
  26. ^ Hearings before Committee on Education and Labor on S. 1958, 74th Cong., 1st Sess. 83.
  27. ^ E.g., see First Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board 112-120; Second Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board 122-140; Third Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board 156-197; Fourth Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board 82-97; Fifth Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board 63-72; Sixth Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board 63-71.
  28. ^ Matter of Gulf Oil Corp., 4 N.L.R.B. 133.

External links[edit]

  • Text of NLRB v. Hearst Publications, 322 U.S. 111 (1944) is available from:  Findlaw  Justia