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U.S. Supreme Court

Mitchell v. Robert DeMario Jewelry, Inc., 361 U.S. 288 (1960)

Mitchell v. Robert DeMario Jewelry, Inc.

No. 39

Argued November 16, 1959

Decided January 18, 1960

361 U.S. 288


In an action by the Secretary of Labor under § 17 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, to restrain violations of § 15(a)(3), a district court has jurisdiction to order an employer to reimburse employees unlawfully discharged or otherwise discriminated against for wages lost because of that discharge or discrimination. Pp. 361 U. S. 289-296.

(a) The jurisdiction conferred by § 17 is not to be narrowly construed as including only the powers expressly conferred or necessarily implied from its language. The jurisdiction is equitable, and includes the power to provide complete relief in the light of the statutory purpose. Pp. 361 U. S. 290-292.

(b) By the proscription of retaliatory acts set forth in § 15(a)(3) and its enforcement in equity by the Secretary under § 17, Congress sought to foster a climate in which compliance with the Act would be enhanced. P. 361 U. S. 292.

(c) The Act should not be construed as enabling employees to resort to statutory remedies to obtain restitution of partial deficiencies in wages due for past work, only at the risk of irremediable loss of entire pay for an unpredictable future period. Pp. 361 U. S. 292-293.

(d) The proviso added to § 17 by the 1949 amendment, which disabled courts in actions under § 17 from awarding "unpaid minimum wages or unpaid overtime compensation or an additional equal amount as liquidated damages," was not intended to apply to reimbursement of lost wages incident to wrongful discharge. Pp. 361 U. S. 293-296.

260 F.2d 929 reversed.

Page 361 U. S. 289

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