CRS Annotated Constitution

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Other Business and Employment Relations

Labor Relations.—Objections to labor legislation on the ground that the limitation of particular regulations to specified industries was obnoxious to the equal protection clause have been consistently overruled.

Supplement: [P. 1834, add footnote at end of first sentence of section:]

Central State Univ. v. American Ass’n of Univ. Professors, 526 U.S. 124 (1999) (upholding limitation on the authority of public university professors to bargain over instructional workloads).

Statutes limiting hours of labor for employees in mines, smelters,265 mills, factories,266 or on public works267 have been sustained. And a statute forbidding persons engaged in mining and manufacturing to issue orders for payment of labor unless redeemable at face value in cash was similarly held unobjectionable.268 The exemption of mines employing less than ten persons from a law pertaining to measurement of coal to determine a miner’s wages is not unreasonable.269 All corporations270 or public service corporations271 may be required to issue to employees who leave their service letters stating the nature of the service and the cause of leaving even though other employers are not so required.

Industries may be classified in a workmen’s compensation act according to the respective hazards of each,272 and the exemption of farm laborers and domestic servants does not render such an act invalid.273 A statute providing that no person shall be denied opportunity for employment because he is not a member of a labor union does not offend the equal protection clause.274 At a time[p.1835]when protective labor legislation generally was falling under “liberty of contract” applications of the due process clause, the Court generally approved protective legislation directed solely to women workers275 and this solicitude continued into present times in the approval of laws which were more questionable,276 but passage of the sex discrimination provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act has generally called into question all such protective legislation addressed solely to women.277


265 Holden v. Hardy, 169 U.S. 366 (1988) .
266 Bunting v. Oregon, 243 U.S. 426 (1917) .
267 Atkin v. Kansas, 191 U.S. 207 (1903) .
268 Keokee Coke Co. v. Taylor, 234 U.S. 224 (1914) . See also Knoxville Iron Co. v. Harbison, 183 U.S. 13 (1901) .
269 McLean v. Arkansas, 211 U.S. 539 (1909) .
270 Prudential Ins. Co. v. Cheek, 259 U.S. 530 (1922) .
271 Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. v. Perry, 259 U.S. 548 (1922) .
272 Mountain Timber Co. v. Washington, 243 U.S. 219 (1917) .
273 New York Central R.R. v. White, 243 U.S. 188 (1917) ; Middletown v. Texas Power & Light Co., 249 U.S. 152 (1919) ; Ward & Gow v. Krinsky, 259 U.S. 503 (1922) .
274 Lincoln Fed. Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co., 335 U.S. 525 (1949) . Neither is it a denial of equal protection for a city to refuse to withhold from its employees’ paychecks dues owing their union, although it withholds for taxes, retirement–insurance programs, saving programs, and certain charities, because its offered justification that its practice of allowing withholding only when it benefits all city or department employees is a legitimate method to avoid the burden of withholding money for all persons or organizations that request a checkoff. City of Charlotte v. Firefighters, 426 U.S. 283 (1976) .
275 E.g., Muller v. Oregon, 208 U.S. 412 (1908) .
276 Goesaert v. Cleary, 335 U.S. 464 (1948) .
277 Title VII, 78 Stat. 253 , 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e . On sex discrimination generally, see infra, pp. 1875–86.
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