Brief Fact Summary. In 1918, the District of Columbia passed a statute that established a minimum wage for women and children, the constitutionality of which was challenged in this matter.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The freedom to contract may be restricted only when exceptional circumstances exist as they relate to the police powers of a state.
Issue. Is the fixing of a minimum wage for children and women constitutional?
Held. No. It is inappropriate to restrict a woman’s freedom to contract for her labor service when such restriction is not equally applied to a man. The payment of a minimum wage puts a burden on the employer that is completely unrelated to his business.
Nevertheless, freedom of contract is the general rule and restraint the exception; and the exercise of legislative authority to abridge it can be justified only by the existence of exceptional circumstances.View Full Point of Law