CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT.
Vinson, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Jackson, Rutledge, Burton
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is a civil contempt proceeding arising out of Walling v. Jacksonville Paper Co., 317 U.S. 564, which we decided January 18, 1943. The District Court had held that none of respondents' employees in specified classes were covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U. S. C. § 201. We sustained a judgment of the United States Court of Appeals which reversed the District Court, modifying it slightly to include a larger class of employees than the United States Court of Appeals had held to be covered.
On remand the District Court, without a further hearing, entered a decree enjoining respondents from violating the Act in any of the following particulars: (1) by paying the designated classes of employees less than 30 cent an hour from the date of the judgment to October 24, 1945, or less than 40 cent an hour thereafter, except as permitted by orders of the Administrator under § 8 or § 14 of the Act; (2) by employing such employees for a workweek longer than 40 hours unless they receive compensation for employment in excess of 40 hours in the workweek at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which they are employed; and (3) by failing to keep and preserve records as prescribed by the Administrator, particularly records of the hours worked each workday and each workweek by each of the employees and of the total wages paid to each for each workweek.
Respondent took no appeal from this order. This was in 1943. In 1946 the Administrator instituted this contempt proceeding alleging that respondents had not complied with the minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping provisions of the judgment in many specified respects. He prayed that respondents be required to terminate
their continuing violations and in order to purge themselves of their contempts to make payment of the amounts of unpaid wages due the affected employees. The District Court found violations of the provisions of the decree. It found that (1) respondents had set up a completely false and fictitious method of computing compensation without regard to the hours actually worked which were unlawful under the Act; (2) respondents had adopted a plan which gave the employees a wage increase in the guise of a bonus and yet excluded that increase from the regular rate of pay for the purpose of computing overtime; (3) respondents had classified some employees as executive or administrative employees in plain violation of the regulations of the Administrator adopted under § 13 (a) (1) of the Act; and (4) one of the respondents had employed pieceworkers in excess of the maximum workweek without paying them overtime compensation.*fn1
The District Court held that a civil contempt required a "wilful" violation of a decree; and that there was in this case no showing of any "wilful" violation of any "specific" provision of the former decree "prohibiting the doing of any specific thing." The District Court further held that it had no power on the application of the Administrator to enforce compliance with its former decree by ordering the payment of unpaid statutory wages. It accordingly considered the application of the Administrator as an amended complaint seeking a broadening of the previous decree and entered such an injunction. 69 F.Supp. 599.
All parties appealed. The United States Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. It ruled that respondents
had violated the provisions of the decree couched in terms of the Act in the respects found by the District Court. It also held that the District Court was warranted in concluding that there was no "wilful contempt" since neither the law nor the injunction specifically referred to or condemned the practices which were found to violate the Act. 167 F.2d 448.
The case is here on a petition for a writ of certiorari which we granted because of the importance of the problem in ...