The Fuller Court (1888–1910)
The Court upheld a 10-hour limit for women workers in what decision?
The Fuller Court unanimously ruled 9–0 in Muller v. Oregon that an Oregon law providing that women working in mechanical establishments, factories, and laundries could not work more than 10 hours a day was constitutional. The case began when it was alleged that Joe Haselbeck, a foreman at Grand Laundry in Portland, required Mrs. Elmer Gotcher to work more than ten hours on September 4, 1905.
Curt Muller, the owner of the laundry, was convicted for violating the law. He challenged his conviction, contending that the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. His attorneys relied largely on the Fuller Court’s decision in Lochner, which struck down a 10-hour work day for New York bakeries.
The U.S. Supreme Court relied in part on a paternalistic description of women to rule against Muller and in favor of the state law. “That women’s physical structure and the performance of maternal functions place her at a disadvantage in the struggle for subsistence is obvious,” Justice David Brewer wrote.