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Morehead v. New York

Impact

By ruling in favor of Morehead, and declaring the New York Labor Act unconstitutional, the Supreme Court gave employers the power to control wages for women and minors. The states no longer had jurisdiction over the employment contractual process, and special groups were no longer protected from unscrupulous or overreaching employers who sought to gain higher profits by offering lower wages. Employee groups with weak bargaining power and little organization, and who had to accept whatever wages were offered in order to subsist, were left with little recourse to seek payment for the services provided to employers.

The Court's narrow view of minimum wage legislation so outraged the voting public that this decision was denounced at the national conventions for both political parties and was later reversed, conferring the right of states to establish minimum wage protection. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act went into effect providing a national minimum wage of no less than 80 cents and the establishment of regulatory boards to oversee wage and hours standards.

Minimum wage legislation is still a hotly debated topic 50 years after the first provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act were enacted. Today, approximately 80 percent of the workers in the United States are protected by this act and are guaranteed a minimum wage. Similar to the New York Labor Act of 1936, minimum wage legislation today guarantees an income above poverty level that will enable all workers to fulfill the basic needs of food, clothing and housing for themselves, their families, and dependents.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Morehead v. New York - Significance, A Dissenting Opinion, Resolution And Reversal, Impact