Skidmore v. Swift

Skidmore v. Swift & Co.
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued October 13, 1944
Decided December 4, 1944
Full case name John Skidmore, et al. v. Swift & Company
Citations 323 more)
65 S.Ct. 161, 89 L.Ed. 124
Prior history Judgment for defendant, 53 F.Supp. 1020 (N.D. Texas 1942); affirmed, 136 F.2d 112 (5th Cir. 1943)
Nothing in the Fair Labor Standards Act or Court holdings precludes waiting time from also being working time. Reversed and remanded.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Jackson, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (1944), is a United States Supreme Court decision holding that an administrative agency's interpretative rules deserve deference according to their persuasiveness.

Background of the case

Seven employees of the Swift & Company packing plant at Fort Worth, Texas brought an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to recover overtime, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees, totaling approximately $77,000. The District Court rendered judgment denying this claim wholly, and the 5th Circuit affirmed.


The case examined the deference that was due to the interpretative rules of an administrative agency.

The court's decision

Justice Jackson delivered the opinion of the Court, which held that nothing in statutory law or the decisions of the Court precluded waiting time from also being working time. The opinion introduced a test for determining the deference to be given to an administrative agency's rules. The four-factor test examines: (1) the thoroughness of the agency's investigation; (2) the validity of its reasoning; (3) the consistency of its interpretation over time; and (4) other persuasive powers of the agency.

Subsequent developments

The continuing vitality of Skidmore deference is in question. Justice Scalia, in his concurrence in Christensen v. Harris County, argued that Skidmore has no place post-Chevron. However, the majority in Christensen held that an agency's interpretation of a statute announced in more informal agency papers (such as an opinion letter) is entitled to Skidmore deference, not Chevron deference.

See also

External links

  • Text of Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (1944) is available from:  Justia 

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