(a) The effect on the Fair Labor Standards Act of the various provisions of the Portal Act must necessarily be determined by viewing the two acts as interelated parts of the entire statutory scheme for the establishment of basic fair labor standards.
The Portal Act contemplates that employers will be relieved, in certain circumstances, from liabilities or punishments to which they might otherwise be subject under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
But the act makes no express change in the national policy, declared by Congress in section 2 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, of eliminating labor conditions “detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers.” The legislative history indicates that the Portal Act was not intended to change this general policy.
The Congressional declaration of policy in section 1 of the Portal Act is explicitly directed to the meeting of the existing emergency and the correction, both retroactively and prospectively, of existing evils referred to therein.
Sponsors of the legislation in both Houses of Congress asserted that it “in no way repeals the minimum wage requirements and the overtime compensation requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act”
that it “protects the legitimate claims” under that Act,
and that one of the objectives of the sponsors was to “preserve to the worker the rights he has gained under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
It would therefore appear that the Congress did not intend by the Portal Act to change the general rule that the remedial provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act are to be given a liberal interpretation
and exemptions therefrom are to be narrowly construed and limited to those who can meet the burden of showing that they come “plainly and unmistakably within (the) terms and spirit” of such an exemption.
7 As appears more fully in the following sections of this part, the several provisions of the Portal Act relate, in pertinent part, to actions, causes of action, liabilities, or punishments based on the nonpayment by employers to their employees of minimum or overtime wages under the provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Section 13 of the Portal Act provides that the terms, “employer,” “employee,” and “wage”, when used in the Portal Act, in relation to the Fair Labor Standards Act, have the same meaning as when used in the latter Act.
8 Portal Act, sections 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12.
Sponsors of the legislation asserted that the provisions of the Portal Act do not deprive any person of a contract right or other right which he may have under the common law or under a State statute. See colloquy between Senators Donnell, Hatch and Ferguson, 93 Cong. Rec. 2098; colloquy between Senators Donnell and Ferguson, 93 Cong. Rec. 2127; statement of Representative Gwynne, 93 Cong. Rec. 1557.
9 See references to this policy at page 5 of the Senate Committee Report on the bill (Senate Rept. 48, 80th Cong., 1st sess.), and in statement of Senator Donnell, 93 Cong. Rec. 2177; see also statement of Senator Morse, 93 Cong. Rec. 2274; statement of Representative Walter, 93 Cong. Rec. 4389.
10 Cf. House Rept. No. 71; Senate Rept. No. 48; House (Conf.) Rept. No. 326, 80th Cong., 1st sess. (referred to hereafter as House Report, Senate Report, and Conference Report); statement of Representative Michener, 93 Cong. Rec. 4390; statement of Senator Wiley, 93 Cong. Rec. 4269, 4270; statement of Representative Gwynne, 93 Cong. Rec. 1572; statements of Senator Donnell, 93 Cong. Rec. 2133-2135, 2176-2178; statement of Representative Robison, 93 Cong. Rec. 1499; Message of the President to Congress, May 14, 1947 on approval of the Act (93 Cong. Rec. 5281).
11 Statements of Senator Wiley, explaining the conference agreement to the Senate, 93 Cong. Rec. 4269 and 4371. See also statement of Senator Cooper, 93 Cong. Rec. 2295; statement of Representative Robsion, 93 Cong. Rec. 1499, 1500.
12 Statement of Representative Michener, explaining the conference agreement to the House of Representatives, 93 Cong. Rec. 4391. See also statement of Representative Keating, 93 Cong. Rec. 1512.
13 Statement of Senator Cooper, 93 Cong. Rec. 2300; see also statements of Senator Donnell, 93 Cong. Rec. 2361, 2362, 2364; statements of Representatives Walter and Robsion, 93 Cong. Rec. 1496, 1498.
14 Roland Electrical Co. v. Walling, 326 U.S. 657; United States v. Rosenwasser, 323 U.S. 360; Brooklyn Savings Bank v. O'Neil, 324 U.S. 697.
15 See Phillips Co. v. Walling, 324 U.S. 490; Walling v. General Industries Co., 330 U.S. 545.
(b) It is clear from the legislative history of the Portal Act that the major provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act remain in full force and effect, although the application of some of them is affected in certain respects by the 1947 Act. The provisions of the Portal Act do not directly affect the provisions of section 15(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act banning shipments in interstate commerce of “hot” goods produced by employees not paid in accordance with the Act's requirements, or the provisions of section 11(c) requiring employers to keep records in accordance with the regulations prescribed by the Administrator. The Portal Act does not affect in any way the provision in section 15(a)(3) banning discrimination against employees who assert their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act, or the provisions of section 12(a) of the Act banning from interstate commerce goods produced in establishments in or about which oppressive child labor is employed. The effect of the Portal Act in relation to the minimum and overtime wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act is considered in this part in connection with the discussion of specific provisions of the 1947 Act.