U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: May 31, 2023
§ 780.500 - Scope and significance of interpretative bulletin.
Subpart A of this part 780 and this subpart F together constitute the official interpretative bulletin of the Department of Labor with respect to the meaning and application of section 13(a)(14) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended. This section provides an exemption from the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the Act for certain agricultural employees engaged in the processing, prior to stemming, or shade-grown tobacco for use as cigar wrapper tobacco. As appears more fully in subpart A, interpretations in this bulletin with respect to provisions of the Act discussed are official interpretations upon which reliance may be placed and which will guide the Secretary of Labor and the Administrator in the performance of their duties under the Act. The exemptions provided in section 13(a)(6) of the Act for employees employed in agriculture is not discussed in this subpart except in its relation to section 13(a)(14). The meaning and application of the section 13(a)(6) exemption is fully considered in subpart D of this part 780.
§ 780.501 - Statutory provision.
Section 13(a)(14) of the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts from the minimum wage requirements of section 6 of the Act and from the overtime provisions of section 7:
Any agricultural employee employed in the growing and harvesting of shade-grown tobacco who is engaged in the processing (including, but not limited to, drying, curing, fermenting, bulking, rebulking, sorting, grading, aging, and baling) of such tobacco, prior to the stemming process, for use as cigar wrapper tobacco.
§ 780.502 - Legislative history of exemption.
The exemption for shade-grown tobacco workers was added to the Act by the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1961. The intent of the committee which inserted the provision in the amendments which were reported to the House (see H. Rept. No. 75, 87th Cong., first sess., p. 29) was to exclude from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Act “employees engaged prior to the stemming process in processing shade-grown tobacco for use as cigar wrapper tobacco, but only if the employees were employed in the growing and harvesting of such tobacco”. The Report also pointed out that “such operations were assumed to be exempt prior to the case of Mitchell v. Budd, 350 U.S. 473 (1956), as a continuation of the agricultural process occurring in the vicinity where the tobacco was grown”. The original provision in the House-passed bill was in the form of an amendment to the Act's definition of agriculture. In that form, it would have altered the effect of the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Mitchell v. Budd, cited above, by bringing the described employees under the exemption provided for agriculture in section 13(a)(6) of the Act. (H. Rept. No. 75, p. 26, and H. Rept. No. 327, p. 17, 87th Cong., first sess.) The Conference Committee, in changing the provision to provide a separate exemption, made it clear that it was “not intended by the committee of conference to change * * * by the exemption for employees engaged in the named operations on shade-grown tobacco the application of the Act to any other employees. Nor is it intended that there be any implication of disagreement by the conference committee with the principles and tests governing the application of the present agricultural exemption as enunciated by the courts.” (H. Rept. No. 327, supra, p. 18.)
§ 780.503 - What determines the application of the exemption.
The application of the section 13(a)(14) exemption depends upon the nature of the work performed by the individual employee for whom exemption is sought and not upon the character of the work of the employer. A determination of whether an employee is exempt therefore requires an examination of that employee's duties. Some employees of the employer may therefore be exempt while others may not.
§ 780.504 - Basic conditions of exemption.
Under section 13(a)(14) of the Act all the following conditions must be met in order for the exemption to apply to an employee:
(a) He must work on “shade-grown tobacco.”
(b) He must be an “agricultural employee” employed “in the growing and harvesting” of shade-grown tobacco.
(c) He must be engaged “in the processing * * * of such tobacco” and this processing must be both “prior to the stemming process” and to prepare the tobacco “for use as cigar wrapper tobacco.” These requirements are discussed in the foIlowing sections of this subpart.
§ 780.505 - Definition of “shade-grown tobacco.”
Shade-grown tobacco to which the exemption applies is Connecticut Valley Shade-Grown U.S. Type 61 and Georgia-Florida Shade-Grown U.S. Type 62.
§ 780.506 - Dependence of exemption on shade-grown tobacco operations.
The exemption provided by section 13(a)(14) of the Act is limited to the performance of certain operations with respect to the specified commodity, shade-grown tobacco. Work in connection with any other kind of tobacco, or any other commodity, including any other farm product, is not exempt under this section. An employee must be an agricultural employee variously employed in the growing and harvesting of “shade-grown tobacco” and in the described processing of “such tobacco” in order that the section 13(a)(14) exemption may apply.
§ 780.507 - “Such tobacco.”
To be within the exemption, the processing activities with respect to shade-grown tobacco must be performed by an employee who has been employed in growing and harvesting “such tobacco.” The term “such tobacco” clearly is limited to the specified type of tobacco named in the section, that is, shade-grown tobacco. While a literal interpretation of the term “such tobacco” might lead to a conclusion that the exemption extends only to the processing of the tobacco which the employee grew or harvested, it appears from the legislative history that the intent was to extend the exemption to the processing of such tobacco which may be viewed “as a continuation of the agricultural process, occurring in the vicinity where the tobacco was grown.” (H. Rept. 75, 87th Cong., first sess., p. 26.) Thus, it appears that the term “such tobacco” has reference to the local crop of shade-grown tobacco, raised by other local growers as well as by the processor, and which is being processed as a continuation of the growing and harvesting of such crop in the vicinity.
§ 780.508 - Application of the exemption.
(a) As indicated in § 780.504, an employee qualifies for exemption under section 13(a)(14) only if he is an agricultural employee employed in the growing and harvesting of shade-grown tobacco and is engaged in the processing of such tobacco. However, both operations do not have to be performed during the same workweek. Section 13(a)(14) of the Act is intended to exempt any agricultural employee from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Act in any workweek when he is employed in the growing and harvesting of shade-grown tobacco, irrespective of the provisions of section 13(a)(6) and whether or not in such workweek he is also engaged in the processing of the tobacco as described in section 13(a)(14). The exemption would also apply in any workweek in which the employee, who grew and harvested shade-grown tobacco, is exclusively engaged in such processing.
(b) An employee so employed in any workweek is considered to be excluded from the “employee employed in agriculture” whose exemption from the pay provisions of the Act is governed by section 13(a)(6). Therefore, his man-days of exempt labor under section 13(a)(14) in any such workweek are not to be counted as man-days of agricultural labor within the meaning of section 3(u) of the Act and to which section 13(a)(6) refers.
(c) However, since section 3(u) defines man-day to mean “any day during which an employee performs any agricultural labor for not less than 1 hour” in the case of an employee who qualifies for the exemption in some workweeks but not in others under section 13(a)(14), all such man-days of his agricultural labor in the workweeks when he is not exempt under section 13(a)(14) will be counted. In this connection, the performance of some agricultural work which does not relate to shade-grown tobacco by an agricultural employee of a grower of such tobacco will not be considered as the performance of nonexempt work outside the section 13(a)(14) exemption in any workweek in which such an employee is employed by such an employer in the growing and harvesting of such tobacco or in its processing prior to stemming, or both, and engages in other agricultural work only incidentally or to an insubstantial extent.
§ 780.509 - Agriculture.
The definition of “agriculture,” as contained in section 3(f) of the Act, is discussed in subpart B of this part 780. The principles there discussed should be referred to as guides to the meaning of the terms “agricultural employee” and “growing and harvesting” as used in section 13(a)(14).
§ 780.510 - “Any agricultural employee.”
The section 13(a)(14) exemption applies to “any agricultural employee” who is employed in the specified activities. The term “any agricultural employee” includes not only agricultural employees of the tobacco grower but also such employees of other farmers or independent contractors. “Any agricultural employee” employed in the growing and harvesting of shade-grown tobacco will qualify for exemption if he engages in the specified processing operations. The use of the word “agricultural” before “employee” makes it apparent that separate consideration must be given to whether an employee is an “agricultural employee” and to whether he is employed in the specified “growing and harvesting” within the meaning of the Act.
§ 780.511 - Meaning of “agricultural employee.”
An “agricultural employee,” for purposes of section 13(a)(14), may be defined as an employee employed in activities which are included in the definition of “agriculture” in section 3(f) of the Act (see § 780.103), and who is employed in these activities with sufficient regularity or continuity to characterize him as a person who engages in them as an occupation. Isolated or sporadic instances of engagement by an employee in activities defined as “agriculture” would not ordinarily establish that he is an “agricultural employee.” His engagement in agriculture should be sufficiently substantial to demonstrate some dedication to agricultural work as a means of livelihood.
§ 780.512 - “Employed in the growing and harvesting.”
Section 13(a)(14) exempts processing operations on shade-grown tobacco only when performed by agricultural employees “employed in the growing and harvesting” of such tobacco. The use of the term “and” in the phrase “growing and harvesting” may be in recognition of the fact that in the raising of shade-grown tobacco the two operations are typically intermingled; however, it is not considered that the word “and” would preclude a determination on the particular facts that an employee is qualified for the exemption if he is employed only in “growing” or only in “harvesting.” Employment in work other than growing and harvesting of shade-grown tobacco will not satisfy the requirement that the employee be employed in growing and harvesting, even if such work is on shade-grown tobacco and constitutes “agriculture” as defined in section 3(f) of the Act. For example, delivery of the tobacco by an employee of the farmer to the receiving platform of the bulking plant would be a “delivery to market” included in “agriculture” when performed by the farmer as an incident to or in conjunction with his farming operations (Mitchell v. Budd, 350 U.S. 473), but it would not be part of “growing and harvesting.”
§ 780.513 - What employment in growing and harvesting is sufficient.
To qualify for exemption the employee must be one of those who “were employed in the growing and harvesting of such tobacco” (H. Rept. No. 75, 87th Cong., First Sess., p. 29) and one whose processing work could be viewed as a “continuation of the agricultural process, occurring in the vicinity where the tobacco was grown.” (Ibid. p. 26.) This appears to require that such employment be in connection with the crop of shade-grown tobacco which is being processed; it appears to preclude an employee who has had no such employment in the current crop season from qualifying for this exemption even if in some past season he was employed in growing and harvesting such tobacco. Bona fide employment in growing and harvesting shade-grown tobacco would also appear to be necessary. An attempt to qualify an employee for the processing exemption by sending him to the fields for growing or harvesting work for a few hours or days would not establish the bona fide employment in growing and harvesting contemplated by the Act. It would not seem sufficient that an employee has been engaged in growing or harvesting operations only occasionally or casually or incidentally for a small fraction of his work time. (See Walling v. Haden, 153 F. 2d 196.) Employment for a significant period in the current crop season or on some regular recurring basis during this season would appear to be necessary before an agricultural employee could reasonably be described as one “employed in the growing and harvesting of shade-grown tobacco.” The determination in a doubtful case will, therefore, require a careful examination and consideration of the particular facts.
§ 780.514 - “Growing” and “harvesting.”
The general meaning of “growing” and “harvesting” of agricultural commodities is explained in §§ 780.117 and 780.118 of subpart B of this part 780, where the meaning of these terms as used in the Act's definition of agriculture is fully discussed. As there indicated, these terms include the actual raising of the crop and the operations customarily performed in connection with the removal of the crops by the farmer from their growing position, but do not extend to operations subsequent to and unconnected with the actual process whereby the agricultural commodities are severed from their attachment to the soil. Thus, while transportation to a concentration point on the farm may be included, “harvesting” never extends to transportation or other operations off the farm. The “growing” of shade-grown tobacco is considered to include such work as preparing the soil, planting, irrigating, fertilizing, and other activities. This type of tobacco requires special cultivation and is grown in fields that are completely enclosed and covered with cheesecloth shade. The leaves of the plant are picked in stages, as they mature. The leaves are taken immediateIy to a tobacco barn, located on the farm, where they are strung on sticks and dried by heat. Before the drying process is completed, the leaves are allowed to absorb moisture. Then they are dried again. It is not until the end of this drying operation that the leaves are packed in boxes and taken from the farm to a building plant for further processing (see Mitchell v. Budd, 350 U.S. 473). Under the general principles stated above, “harvesting” of shade-grown tobacco is considered to include the removal of the tobacco leaves from the plant and moving the tobacco from the field to the drying barn on the farm, together with the performance of other work as a necessary part of such operations. Subsequent operations such as the drying of the tobacco in the barn on the farm and packing of the tobacco for transportation to the bulking plant are not included in “harvesting.”
§ 780.515 - Processing requirements of section 13(a)(14).
When it has been determined that an employee is an “agricultural employee employed in the growing and harvesting of shade-grown tobacco,” to whom section 13(a)(14) of the Act may apply, it then becomes necessary to ascertain whether he is “engaged in the processing * * * of such tobacco, prior to the stemming process, for use as Cigar-wrapper tobacco.”
§ 780.516 - “Prior to the stemming process.”
The exemption provided by section 13(a)(14) applies only to employees whose processing operations on shade-grown tobacco are performed “prior to the stemming process.” (See H. Rept. No. 75, 87th Cong., first sess., p. 26). This means that an employee engaged in stemming, the removal of the midrib from the tobacco leaf (McComb v. Puerto Rico Tobacco Marketing Co-op. Ass'n., 80 F. Supp. 953, affirmed 181 F. 2d 697), or in any operations on the tobacco which are performed after stemming has begun will not come within the exemption. Stemming and all subsequent operations are nonexempt work.
§ 780.517 - “For use as Cigar-wrapper tobacco.”
The phrase “for use as Cigar-wrapper tobacco” limits the type of end product which may be produced by the exempt operations. As its name indicates, cigar-wrapper tobacco is used as a cigar wrapper and is distinguished from other types of tobacco which serve other purposes such as filler, pipe, chewing, and other kinds of tobacco. Normally, shade-grown tobacco is used only for cigar wrappers. However, if the tobacco is not being processed by the employer for such specific and limited use, the employee is not engaged in exempt processing operations.
§ 780.518 - Exempt processing operations.
The processing operations under section 13(a)(14) include, but are not limited to, “drying, curing, fermenting, bulking, rebulking, sorting, grading, aging, and baling” of the shade-grown tobacco. As previously noted, these operations are exempt only if performed on shade-grown tobacco prior to the stemming process to prepare the tobacco for use as cigar wrapper tobacco.
§ 780.519 - General scope of exempt operations.
All operations normally performed in the processing of shade-grown tobacco for use as cigar wrapper tobacco, if performed prior to the stemming process and for such use, are included in the exemption. As a whole, this processing substantially changes the physical properties and chemical content of the tobacco, improves its color, increases its combustibility, and eliminates the rawness and harshness of the freshly cured leaf. In the process the leaves are piled in “bulks” of about 4,000 pounds each to undergo a “sweating” or “fermentation” process in which temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. Proper heat control includes, among other things, breaking up the bulk, redistributing the tobacco, and adding water. Proper fermentation or aging requires the bulk to be reconstructed several times. This bulking process may last from 4 to 8 months. When the tobacco is properly dried, cured, fermented, and aged, it is moved to long tables where the leaves are individually graded and sorted, after which they are tied in bundles called “hands” of about 30 to 35 leaves each, which are then baled for shipment. Equipment required for the work may include a steam-heated plant, platforms, thermometers, bulk covers, baling boxes and presses, baling mats and packing, sorting, and grading tables. (See Mitchell v. Budd, 350 U.S. 473, 475.) Employees performing any part of this processing prior to the stemming process, including the operations named in section 13(a)(14), may come within the exemption if they are otherwise qualified and if the tobacco on which they work is being processed for use as cigar wrapper tobacco.
§ 780.520 - Particular operations which may be exempt.
(a) General. Section 13(a)(14) lists a number of operations as being included in the processing of shade-grown tobacco. Some of these are, and others are not, themselves “processing” in the sense that performance of the operations changes the natural form of the commodity on which it is performed. All of the operations named and described in paragraph (b) of this section, however, are a necessary and integral part of the overall process of preparing shade-grown tobacco for use as cigar wrapper tobacco and, when performed as part of that process and prior to stemming of the tobacco, by an employee qualified under the terms of the section, will provide the basis for his exemption from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Act.
(b) Particular operations—(1) Drying. Drying includes the removal or lowering of the moisture content of the tobacco, whether by natural means or by exposure to heat from ovens, furnaces, etc.
(2) Curing. Curing includes removing the tobacco to the curing shed or barn and stringing the tobacco over slats.
(3) Fermenting. Fermenting includes the operations controlling the chemical changes which take place in the tobacco as the result of bulking and rebulking.
(4) Bulking. Bulking includes piling the tobacco in piles or bulks of about 4,000 pounds each for the purpose of fermenting the tobacco.
(5) Rebulking. Rebulking includes the breaking down of the tobacco bulks or piles and rearranging them so that the tobacco on the inside will be placed on the outside of the bulk and tobacco on the outside will be placed inside.
(6) Sorting. Sorting includes segregation of the tobacco leaves in connection with the grading and classifying of the cured tobacco.
(7) Grading. Grading includes sorting or classifying as to size and quality.
(8) Aging. Aging includes the curing process brought about by bulking.
(9) Baling. Baling includes the tying of the tobacco into “hands” and placing them in bales for shipment.
§ 780.521 - Other processing operations.
The language of the section, namely, “including, but not limited to,” extends the exemption for processing to include other operations in the processing of shade-grown tobacco besides those specifically enumerated. These additional operations include only those which are a necessary and integral part of preparing the shade-grown tobacco for use as cigar wrapper tobacco. These additional operations, like those enumerated in section 13(a)(14), must be performed before the tobacco has been stemmed. Stemming work and further work on the tobacco after stemming has been performed are nonexempt.