CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK.
Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Jackson, Rutledge
MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
The writ of certiorari in the instant case raises two questions for consideration: the first, whether an employee who obtains a judgment for unpaid overtime wages
and liquidated damages under § 7 (a)*fn1 and § 16 (b)*fn2 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is entitled to interest on such sums; the second, a narrow question with respect to the interpretation of a judgment of this Court, which was entered in its per curiam opinion on a prior writ of certiorari, reversing a prior state court judgment in this same case.
The proceedings leading to the first writ began when the respondent, Pedersen, an employee of the petitioner, a construction company, instituted an action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, in behalf of himself and
other employees, to recover overtime compensation and liquidated damages alleged to be due by virtue of §§ 7 and 16 (b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The action was tried on an agreed statement of facts which stated that the New York Central Railroad Company operated interstate trains over four bridges located on its right of way in the State of New York; that abutments supporting two bridges were destroyed and that the substructures of the two other bridges were damaged by a flood. The stipulation also stated:
"Thereafter, the railroad company entered into a contract with the defendant, an independent contractor engaged in general construction work, for the construction of entirely new abutments under the two bridges where the abutments had been washed out and destroyed, as aforesaid, and for repairing the substructures of the other two bridges which had been damaged, as aforesaid.
"Defendant employed plaintiffs, together with other individuals, as its employees in doing work under said contract and paid them at the rates per hour, as shown on Schedule 'A' annexed hereto."
After making findings of fact in conformity with the stipulation, the trial court dismissed the respondents' complaint.*fn3 The Appellate Division*fn4 and Court of Appeals*fn5 affirmed the lower court decision on the theory that the nature of the employer's general business activity -- not the activities of employees on a particular job -- determined whether an employee was "engaged in [interstate] commerce" within the meaning of § 7 (a) of the Act. ...