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Secretary of Labor v. Lauritzen

835 F.2d 1529 (1987)

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Secretary of Labor v. Lauritzen

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

835 F.2d 1529 (1987)

Facts

Michael Lauritzen and Lauritzen Farms (collectively, Lauritzen) (defendants) hired families of migrant workers on a yearly basis, usually from July through September, to harvest pickles on 100 to 330 acres of land Lauritzen owned or leased. There were new families each year, but many returned annually based on arrangements with Lauritzen. Lauritzen provided the workers with housing during the time they were harvesting and supplied all the equipment needed for their work except work gloves. The harvest areas were subdivided into family plots, which were assigned based on how much the family told Lauritzen it wanted to harvest and when the family arrived at the work area. A brief demonstration was all the training that was necessary to do the work. It was up to the families to decide when and how to pick. At the end of each harvest day, a family member used one of Lauritzen’s trucks to haul the day’s pick to a grading station or sorting shed. The amount of a family’s compensation depended on the quality of the produce harvested as determined by the grading that occurred at the end of each workday. Thus, the ability to judge the pickles’ size, color, and freshness affected a family’s earnings. The work involved stooping, kneeling, and constant use of one’s hands, often under a hot sun. Lauritzen classified the workers as independent contractors. The United States secretary of labor (secretary) (plaintiff) brought an action alleging that the workers were employees for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and, therefore, subject to the FLSA’s record-keeping, minimum-wage, and child-labor provisions. The district court entered judgment in favor of the secretary and enjoined Lauritzen from further violations of the FLSA. Lauritzen appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wood, J.)

Concurrence (Easterbrook, J.)

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