Christensen v. Harris County, 529 U.S. 576, 12 (2000)

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

Opinion of the Court

effect to an agency's regulation containing a reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute. Id., at 842-844.

Here, however, we confront an interpretation contained in an opinion letter, not one arrived at after, for example, a formal adjudication or notice-and-comment rulemaking. 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. See, e. g., Reno v. Koray, 515 U. S. 50, 61 (1995) (internal agency guideline, which is not "subject to the rigors of the Administrative Procedur[e] Act, including public notice and comment," entitled only to "some deference" (internal quotation marks omitted)); EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co., 499 U. S. 244, 256-258 (1991) (interpretative guidelines do not receive Chevron deference); Martin v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Comm'n, 499 U. S. 144, 157 (1991) (interpretative rules and enforcement guidelines are "not entitled to the same deference as norms that derive from the exercise of the Secretary's delegated lawmaking powers"). See generally 1 K. Davis & R. Pierce, Administrative Law Treatise 3.5 (3d ed. 1994). Instead, interpretations contained in formats such as opinion letters are "entitled to respect" under our decision in Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U. S. 134, 140 (1944), but only to the extent that those interpretations have the "power to persuade," ibid. See Arabian American Oil Co., supra, at 256-258. As explained above, we find unpersuasive the agency's interpretation of the statute at issue in this case.

Of course, the framework of deference set forth in Chevron does apply to an agency interpretation contained in a regulation. But in this case the Department of Labor's regulation does not address the issue of compelled compensatory time. The regulation provides only that "[t]he agreement or understanding [between the employer and employee] may include other provisions governing the preservation, use, or cashing


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