NLRB v. Hearst Publications

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Hearst Publications




Plaintiff publishes daily newspapers and hires newsboys to distribute their papers. Plaintiff claims that the newsboys are not employees according to the National Labor Relations Act and therefore does not have to bargain with them. The defendant claims that the newsboys are in fact employees that that by not bargaining with them, the plaintiff has violated the Act.

Procedural History

The plaintiff asked the Circuit Court of Appeals to set aside the defendant's orders. The Court of Appeals independently determined, by using common law standards, that the newsboys were not employees.


The court first goes into a long discussion about how much control the plaintiff has over the newsboys. It then claims that the NLRA was "not intended to vary with state common law." The court says that an employee might have certain characteristics such that the ability to unionize and bargain would be very important to him and her. These "characteristics may outweigh technical legal classification for purposes unrelated to the statute's objectives and bring the relation within its protections." (These characteristics may affect the classification of who is an employee and who is not.)

The court conclude that when "the question is one of specific application of a broad statutory term in a proceeding in which the agency administering the statute must determine it initially, the reviewing court's function is limited ... [a statutory interpretation] is to be accepted if it has warrant in the record and a reasonable basis of law." In this case, the court concludes that the defendant meets this standard.