Walters v. Metropolitan Ed. Enterprises, Inc., 519 U.S. 202, 9 (1997)

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Opinion of the Court

of a statutory phrase; and that purpose alone is enough to "merit" enactment of the phrase at issue here. Moreover, the phenomenon of midweek commencement and termination of employment seems to us not as rare as the Court of Appeals believed. For many businesses payday, and hence hiring- and firing-day, is the end of the month rather than the end of the week. Metropolitan itself experienced 10 midweek arrivals or departures from its roughly 15-employee work force during 1990. Brief for Petitioner in No. 95-259, pp. 10-11.

Metropolitan points out that the interpretation we adopt produces some strange consequences with regard to the coverage of Title VII. For example, an employee who works irregular hours, perhaps only a few days a month, will be counted toward the 15-employee minimum for every week in the month. Metropolitan's approach reduces this problem (though it does not eliminate it entirely): The employee will be counted so long as he works one hour each day of the workweek. On the other hand, Metropolitan's approach produces unique peculiarities of its own: A company that has 15 employees working for it on each day of a 5-day workweek is covered, but if it decides to add Saturday to its workweek with only one less than its full complement of employees, it will become exempt from coverage (despite being in fact a "larger" business). Unsalaried employees who work the same number of hours per week are counted or not counted, depending on how their hours are scheduled. A half-time worker who works only mornings is counted; a half-time worker who works alternate days is not. The fact is that neither interpretation of the coverage provision can cause it to be an entirely accurate measure of the size of a business.

In any event, Metropolitan ought to be reluctant to appeal to practical consequences as the basis for deciding the question before us. The approach it suggests would turn the coverage determination into an incredibly complex and expensive factual inquiry. Applying it in the present cases re-

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