The Young and the Hirable

Putting a teen on the payroll? Get familiar with child labor laws first.

Not Just Chicken Feed

Through a series of Supreme Court decisions, it has been determined that almost every activity impacts interstate commerce. The Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which appears as Article 1, Section 8, states that Congress has the power to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes. The seminal case that established that the Federal government may regulate almost all economic activity was Wickard v. Fillburn, decided in 1942. Roscoe Fillburn was a farmer who grew wheat for consumption on his own farm only. Previously, in order to keep wheat prices high during the Depression, Congress had passed laws that limited the amount of wheat that farmers could grow per acre. Fillburn exceeded the allowable amount of wheat per acre, and he was fined and ordered to destroy much of his crop. The Supreme Court said Congress had the power to fine Fillburn under the Interstate Commerce Clause.

How can a farmer who is growing wheat for consumption on his own farm (for use as chicken feed, in this case) have any effect on commerce between the states? The Court reasoned that, because Fillburn grew his own chicken feed, this reduced the amount of wheat that he would purchase on the open market. And, since chicken feed was traded nationally, Fillburn’s “overproduction” affected commerce across the country. (There’s more to it than this, but I’ve chosen not to go beyond the scope of our purposes for this article. However, if you’d like to learn more, visit Wikipedia.)

In any event, if the Court found that Roscoe Fillburn’s chicken feed growing affected interstate commerce, you can be sure that the Court could see some way in which the activities of a modern day spa does the same. So, even if Margie didn’t operate businesses located in two states, she would be considered involved in interstate commerce and fall under the FLSA. Therefore, Margie has violated federal law by allowing Denise to drive for work purposes.