Walters v. Metropolitan Ed. Enterprises, Inc., 519 U.S. 202, 7 (1997)

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Opinion of the Court

something which appertains to, is connected with, or affects, one"; giving as an example "to have an ungrateful son").

Metropolitan contends that if one were asked how many employees he had for a given working day, he would give as the answer the number of employees who were actually performing work on that day. That is possibly so. Language is a subtle enough thing that the phrase "have an employee for a given working day" (as opposed to "have an employee on a given day") may be thought to convey the idea that the employee must actually be working on the day in question. But no one before us urges that interpretation of the language, which would count even salaried employees only on days that they are actually working. Such a disposition is so improbable and so impossible to administer (few employers keep daily attendance records of all their salaried employees) that Congress should be thought to have prescribed it only if the language could bear no other meaning. Metropolitan's own proposed test does not focus on the question, "How many employees did you have at work on a particular working day?" but rather the question, "How many employees were you compensating on that day?" That question, unlike the other one, simply cannot be derived from any possible reading of the text.


The Court of Appeals rejected the straightforward meaning of "has fifteen or more employees" in 2000e(b) because of a different supposed consequence of the added statutory qualification "for each working day." In its view, if only the employment relationship were the intended focus, the statute would simply have required the employer to "ha[ve] fifteen or more employees . . . in each of twenty or more calendar weeks," without the further refinement "for each working day" of each of those weeks. This point would have some force (though it would still not produce the Court of Appeals' focus on the number of employees being compen-

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