Christensen v. Harris County, 529 U.S. 576, 4 (2000)

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

Opinion of the Court

for the excess hours at a rate not less than 11/2 times their regular hourly wage. 207(a)(1). Although this requirement did not initially apply to public-sector employers, Congress amended the FLSA to subject States and their political subdivisions to its constraints, at first on a limited basis, see Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1966, Pub. L. 89-601, 102(b), 80 Stat. 831 (extending the FLSA to certain categories of state and local employees), and then more broadly, see Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1974, Pub. L. 93-259, 6(a)(1)-(2), 88 Stat. 58-59 (extending the FLSA to all state and local employees, save elected officials and their staffs). States and their political subdivisions, however, did not feel the full force of this latter extension until our decision in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U. S. 528 (1985), which overruled our holding in National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U. S. 833 (1976), that the FLSA could not constitutionally restrain traditional governmental functions.

In the months following Garcia, Congress acted to mitigate the effects of applying the FLSA to States and their political subdivisions, passing the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1985, Pub. L. 99-150, 99 Stat. 787. See generally Moreau v. Klevenhagen, 508 U. S. 22, 26 (1993). Those amendments permit States and their political subdivisions to compensate employees for overtime by granting them compensatory time at a rate of 11/2 hours for every hour worked. See 29 U. S. C. 207(o)(1). To provide this form of compensation, the employer must arrive at an agreement or understanding with employees that compensatory time will be granted instead of cash compensation.1 207(o)(2); 29 CFR 553.23 (1999).

1 Such an agreement or understanding need not be formally reached and memorialized in writing, but instead can be arrived at informally, such as when an employee works overtime knowing that the employer rewards overtime with compensatory time. See 29 CFR 553.23(c)(1) (1999).


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