Christensen v. Harris County, 529 U.S. 576, 2 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 576 (2000)


has violated 207. Two other features of the FLSA support this interpretation: Employers are permitted to decrease the number of hours that employees work, and employers also may cash out accumulated compensatory time by paying the employee his regular hourly wage for each hour accrued. The county's policy merely involves doing both of these steps at once. A Department of Labor opinion letter taking the position that an employer may compel the use of compensatory time only if the employee has agreed in advance to such a practice is not entitled to deference under Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837. Interpretations such as those in opinion letters—like interpretations contained in policy statements, agency manuals, and enforcement guidelines, all of which lack the force of law—do not warrant Chevron-style deference. They are "entitled to respect," but only to the extent that they are persuasive, Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U. S. 134, 140, which is not the case here. Chevron deference does apply to an agency interpretation contained in a regulation, but nothing in the Department of Labor's regulation even arguably requires that an employer's compelled use policy must be included in an agreement. And deference to an agency's interpretation of its regulation is warranted under Auer v. Robbins, 519 U. S. 452, 461, only when the regulation's language is ambiguous, which is not the case here. Pp. 582-588.

158 F. 3d 241, affirmed.

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ., joined, and in which Scalia, J., joined except as to Part III. Souter, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 589. Scalia, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, post, p. 589. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 592. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg, J., joined, post, p. 596.

Michael T. Leibig argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Richard H. Cobb and Murray E. Malakoff.

Matthew D. Roberts argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. On the brief were Solicitor General Waxman, Deputy Solicitor General Kneedler, Jonathan E. Nuechterlein, Allen H. Feldman, and Edward D. Sieger.


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