Bunting v. Oregon, 243 U.S. 426; 37 S. Ct. 435; 61 L. Ed. 830 (1917)

Bunting v. Oregon, 243 U.S. 426; 37 S. Ct. 435; 61 L. Ed. 830 (1917)

Facts—A statute of Oregon required that any person employed in a mill, factory, or manufacturing establishment should not work more than ten hours a day, except for necessary repairs, or in an emergency. However, an additional three hours could be spent, but with payment of time and one-half for the overtime period. Bunting employed a man named Hammersly for thirteen hours one day, with no payment for overtime.

Question—Does this statute limiting the hours of work violate the Fourteenth Amendment?


ReasonsJ. McKenna (5–3). The Court held that this was a valid extension of state police power. The state found that it was injurious to men to work longer than ten hours in the types of establishments mentioned. This was not a wage law (which would have been in violation of the state constitution), since no attempt was made to fix standard wages, which were left to the contracting parties. The provision for overtime was simply for the purpose of giving an additional reason for not working overtime. This was adequate reasoning for the legislative judgment in this case.

“But we need not cast about for reasons for the legislative judgment. We are not required to be sure of the precise reasons for its exercise, or be convinced of the wisdom of its exercise. It is enough for our decision if the legislation under review was passed in the exercise of an admitted power of government.”

The dissenters did not write an opinion.

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