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stitutional,' and that where the law prohibits sending claims out
of the state, taking them is a violation of the law.* The gar-
nishee's action may be in good faith in making payments that
could have been defended if there had been a full knowledge of
the circumstances, in which case the debt will be regarded as
discharged in so far as he is concerned, the liability falling upon
the wrongful garnishor ; ^ but where payment is not made, it
may still be held that the foreign judgment is within the juris-
diction of the court rendering it, but the payment thereon will
be subject to the exemption laws of the state of residence of the

Section 25. Assignments of Wages. — Assignments of un-
earned wages are safeguarded in various ways, as by the require-
ment that they must be recorded,' that copies must be filed with

> Main v. Field. 13 Ind. App. 401, 40 N.E. 1103 ; Wilson v. Josephs, 107 Ind.
490, 8 N.E. 616.

» In re Flukes, 157 Mo. 125. 57 S.W. 545.

' Sweeny v. Hunter, 145 Pa. St. 363, 22 Atl. 653 ; Singer Mfg. Co. r. Fleming,
39 Nebr. 679, 58 N.W. 226.

* Wilson V. Josephs, supra.

' Main v. Field, supra; O'Connor v. Walter, 37 Nebr. 267, 55 N.W. 867.

• S.nger Mfg. Co. v. Fleming, supra.

1 Conn., Act3 1905, ch. 78 ; 111., R.S. eh. 10b, sec. 18. etc.


the employer,* or even that his consent must be obtained,^ or
that the wife must join in the husband's assignments, or vice
versa} Assignments to secure loans ^ or future advances * may
be declared void, or all assignments of future earnings pro-
hibited.® This latter prohibition was declared constitutional
in a case in which it was said that the law was enacted for the
protection of a class of persons who are in large numbers depend-
ent on daily or weekly wages for the maintenance of themselves
and families, and whose circumstances render them peculiarly
liable to imposition and injustice. The law was approved on
this ground, and as aiming clearly at the "protection of wage
earners from oppression, extortion, or fraud on the part of
others, and from the consequences of their own weakness, folly,
or improvidence." '

The language of the court in this case can hardly commend
itself to general acceptance, for while laws of the same general
class are sustained by the highest courts, the reasons usually of-
fered do not convey the impression of restraint on the acts of the
employee on account of his incapacities of the sort designated.
Indeed, the court of one state declared a law prohibiting the
payment of wages in scrip, even at the employee's option, was
"an encroachment upon his constitutional rights, and an ob-
struction to his pursuit of happiness. Such laws as the one
under consideration classify him among the incompetents, and
degrade his calling." ^ The constitutionality of the law of

» Mass., Acts 1906, ch. 390 ; N.Y., Acts 1904, eh. 77.

* La., Acts 1906, No. 5 ; |Minn., Acts 1905, ch. 309 ; Mass., Acts 1908, ch. 605.
» Colo., Acts 1907, ch. 240 ; Iowa, Acts 1906, ch. 148 ; Mass., Acts 1908,
supra. * Ga., Acts 1904, p. 84.

» Mass., Acts 1906, ch. 390. « Ind.. A.S., sec. 7059c.

7 Int. Textbook Co. v. Weissinger, 160 Ind 349, 65 N.E. 521.
« State V. Haun, 61 Kans. 146, 59 Pac. 340.


Massachusetts requiring the recording of assignments and
their prior acceptance by the employer, as well as the joint
action of the wife, was upheld by the supreme court of that
state on the grounds that it lessened the opportunity for dis-
honesty on the part of both wage earners and money lenders,
as well as tending to diminish the risk of litigation consequent
on the refusal of an employer to pay the assigned wages. It
also admitted the validity of a distinction between assignments
to secure loans of money and assignments as security for ne-
cessities. The section relating to the wife's joint action was
held to be of less certain validity, but was supported as within
the power of the legislature, which "might look chiefly to the
ordinary relations between husband and wife under the law,
and adopt this form of regulation as salutary in its application
to most members of the class with which they were dealing." '
The business of dealing in assigned wages may be regulated
by prohibiting discounts in excess of the legal rate of interest ; ^
or dealers may be required to procure a license, the rate of in-
terest and other charges be limited, all calculations required to be
based on the amount actually advanced by the broker, or other
restrictions made.' An ordinance embodying a number of
these regulations was declared constitutional as tending to pre-
vent fraud and extortion ;* so of a law of Connecticut limiting
the rate of interest;^ while in Texas a statute taxing dealers in
assigned wages * was declared unconstitutional as restraining

» Mutual Loan Co. v. MartcU. 200 Mass. 482, 86 N.E. 916.
« N.J.. G.S., p. 2344 ; Md.. Acts of 1906, ch. 399.

» Colo., Acts 1909, ch. 17 ; Del., Acts 1909, ch. 233 ; Ind., Acta 1909, ch. 34,
etc. * Sanning r. City of Cincinnati. 81 Ohio St. 142, 90 N.E. 125.

» State V. Hurlburt. 82 Conn. 232, 72 Atl. 1079.
• Acts 1905, ch. 111.


freedom of trade and denying equality before the law ; ^ and an
Illinois statute applying to salaries as well as wages, and declar-
ing the forfeiture of the principal where the interest is usurious,*
was for these reasons declared void,^ restrictions on salaried
employees not being justified, and other usurious contracts not
being dealt with in so drastic a manner.

Section 26. Suits for Wages. — Suits for wages are specially
provided for in a number of states, as by allowing a successful
claimant an additional recovery for attorneys' fees ; * by pro-
hibiting a stay of execution where the judgment is for the re-
covery of a wage debt ; ^ by providing that no property shall be
exempt from execution on such a judgment; ® by placing suits
for wages for manual labor at the head of the trial docket ; ^ by
providing that two or more wage claimants may make joint
appeals ; ^ or by prohibiting the allowance of setoffs in suits for
wages except for money actually loaned or advanced,^ or unless
specifically provided for in writing.^"

Courts differ as to the constitutionaUty of laws allowing a
successful claimant in a suit for wages to recover also an attor-
ney's fee, some holding such laws constitutional," while others

I.Owens V. State, 53 Tex. Cr. App. 105, 112 S.W. 1075.

» Act of May 13, 1905. = Massie v. Cessna, 239 111. 352, 88 N.E. 152.

* Cal., Acts 1907, ch. 51 ; Idaho, Code, sec. 3721 ; 111., R.S. ch. 13, sec. 13 ;
Ind., A.S. sec. 7068.

' Iowa, Code, sec. 3996 ; Mich., C.L. sec. 901 ; N. Dak., Code, sec. 8447 ;
Ohio, Gen. Code, sec. 10,403.

•111., R.S., ch. 52, sec. 16 ; Minn., Const., art. 1, sec. 12 ; N.C., Rev. 1905, sec.
685 ; Va., Code, sec. 3630. ' Pa., B. P. Dig., p. 2073, sec. 3.

8 Pa., B. Dig., p. 246, sec. 54. ' Wyo., R.S., sec. 2592.

M Ala., Code, sec. 5858 ; Wyo., R.S., sec. 2593.
' " Vogel V. Pekoe, 157 111. 339, 42 N.E. 386 ; Seeleyville Coal Co. v. McGlosson,
166 Ind. 561, 77 N.E. 1044; Schmoll v. Lucht, 106 Minn. 188, 118 N.W. 555;
Singer Mfg. Co. v. Fleming, 39 Nebr. 679, 58 N.W. 226 (holding that the giv-
ing of an attorney's fee is only compensatory, not penal) .


condemn them as giving an unequal advantage to one class of
suitors ^ or to a plaintiff over the defendant.^ The statute of
Colorado on this subject avoids the latter difficulty by allowing
an attorney's fee to be recovered by the successful party.^

Section 27. Mechanics' Liens. — The common law gave a
lien on personal property benefited by the labor or care of a
person to whom it had been intrusted, for the protection of the
workman's interests.^ This right has been extended by statute
to the protection of laborers and mechanics generally, for prac-
tically every sort of labor, affecting real as well as personal
property, and laws to this effect are to be found on the statute
books of every state and territory."

In order to secure the benefits of the statutory lien, the pro-
visions of the law need be only substantially complied with, as
such laws are to be liberally construed,^ and where the com-
pliance suffices to make the facts certain, errors or superfluities
will not invalidate the lien.'' The difficulty of enforcing a lien
on certain classes of property, and the desire to reach the party
properly chargeable have combined to lead to the enactment of

1 Manowsky v. Stephan, 233 111. 409, 84 N.E. 365 (statute included all lien
claimants) ; Johnson v. Goodyear Min. Co., 127 Cal. 4, 59 Pac. 304 ; Atkinson v.
Woodmansce, 68 Kans. 71, 74 Pac. 640.

» Gulf, etc., R. Co. V. Ellis, 165 U.S. 150, 17 Sup. Ct. 255; Davidson v. Jen-
nings, 27 Colo. 187, 60 Pae. 354; Randolph v. Supply Co., 106 Ala. 501, 17
So. 721. » Supp. sec. 2801ul.

* Oakes v. Moore, 24 Me. 214, 41 Am. Dec. 379 ; Morgan v. Congdon, 4 N.Y.

' The law of the District of Columbia, 31 U.S. Stat. 1384, is a fair type of laws
of this clas.s.

• Mining Co. v. CuUins, 104 U.S. 176 ; Hays v. Mercier, 22 Nebr. 656, 35 N.W.
894; Traction Co. v. Bronnan 87 N.E. 215 (Ind.). Per contra. National Fire
Proofing Co. v. Huntington, 81 Conn. 632, 71 Atl. 911.

» Hurley v. Tucker, 112 N. Y. Supp. 980.


special provisions of law where the work is being done by con-
tractors on property of the sort indicated. Instead of making
the thing worked on the subject of the lien, the fund from which
a contractor on public works is to be paid is subjected to a lien
on due notice to proper authorities, in a few states.^ The same
rule may be applied to railroad construction and repair.^ The
law may also put upon the principal the duty of withholding
payments from the contractor when notified of a laborer's claim
thereon, to await an adjustment of claims.^

Section 28. Bonds to Secure Payment of Wages. — Still an-
other form of protection which applies most frequently to labor
on public works,* though in a few states to railroad work,^ and in
New York to canal construction,^ is one that requires contractors,
prior to the commencement of their work, to give bond for the
payment of such claims as would, under other conditions, give
rise to liens. Such laws exist in a score of jurisdictions. Congress
having enacted one applicable to public works of the United
States.^ This care for the safeguarding of the wages of em-
ployees of contractors is further expressed by laws compelling
contracting stevedores to be licensed by public authority, and
to give bond ; * by requiring the recording and publication of the
contract or other conditions under which certain undertakings

1 Colo. Supp., sees. 2888-2891 ; Ind., Acts 1905, ch. 124, sec. 9 ; N.Y., Con.
L., ch. 33, sees. 5, 12.

2 Mich., C. L., sees. 5243-5245 ; Mo., R. S., sec. 1057
s Miss., Code, sec. 3074 ; Ohio, Gen. Code, sec. 8325.

^nd., A.S. sees. 4300b, 4300c, 5592, 5593; Mich., Acts 1905, No. 187;
Wash., Code, sees. 5925-5927.

» Conn., G.S. sec. 3696; Me., R.S. ch. 51, sec. 47; Minn., R.L., sees. 2919,

• Con. L., ch. 5, sec. 145. ^ 28 Stat. 278 ; 33 Stat. 811.

8 Md., Acts 1898, ch. 505 ; N.C., Rev. 1905, sec. 2050.


are carried on ; ^ or by making the failure of a contractor to pay-
wages due out of current receipts under the contract a misde-
meanor,' or a felony,^ though this latter law applies only to
labor on public works. Laws of this class come within the
reason of lien laws, and have generally received a liberal con-
struction, with a view to effectuating their purpose to require
payment for labor and materials from those who profit by their


Section 29. Liability of Stockholders of Corporations. — The
earnings of employees of corporations are protected in several
states by statutes that make individual stockholders, either in
designated classes of corporations,^ or in business corporations
generally,® liable for wage debts due employees.

Section 30. Preference of Wage Claims. — Of almost equal
universality with the lien laws are laws making wages preferred
claims in the settlement of the estates of deceased employers
and in cases of bankruptcy, assignments, executions, etc.^ Such
laws are constitutional,^ and apply to all wages due at the time,
whether the claimant has left service or not.^ They are vari-
ously interpreted, some courts holding that they should be
strictly construed, and that they are for the benefit of manual

« Idaho, Code, sec. 638. « S.C., Cr. Code, sec. 338.

» Cal., Pen. Code, sec. 653d.

* Hill V. American Surety Co., 200 U.S. 197, 26 Sup. Ct. 168.

»Ind., A.S. sees. 5077, 5198, etc.; N.J., G.S., pp. 1610, 2319; N.C., Rev.
1905, sec. 2556.

• Mass., Acts 1903, ch. 437, sec. 33 ; Mich., Const., art. 15, sec. 7; Pa., B.P.
Dig., p. 423.

' Mass., R.S., ch. 142, sec. 1; ch. 163, sec. 118; N.Y., Con. L., ch. 12, sec.
27 ; ch. 31, sec. 9 ; U.S.. 30 Stat. 563, Comp. St., p. 3447. sec. 64, etc.

» Richardson v. Thurber. 104 N.Y. 606 ; Small v. Hammcs, 156 Ind. 556, 60
N.E. 342.

» In re Scott, 148 N.Y. 558, 42 N.E. 1079.


laborers only ; ^ while others rule that they should receive a
"fair and liberal construction," ^ and that they are applicable
in the case of a superintendent of laborers,' or of bookkeepers
and salesmen, under a law using the term "employees." *
Such a law cannot be availed of by an official of a corporation
advancing wages due its employees ; ^ nor, it has been held, by
an assignee of a wage debt,® though the contrary has been held,'
and it is not clear why the rule in this case should differ from
that in others involving like conditions.^ The claim given has
been held not to amount to a lien,^ though here again other courts
have viewed the law differently ; ^° and it seems a wise provision
of statute to declare the status of such a claim. ^^ Where the view
is held that the claim does not rank with a lien, it will follow
that perfected lien claims take precedence over wage claims of
other forms ; ^^ though a prior mortgage ranks below the claim
given by such a statute," and to hold otherwise would give
a lender gratuitously the benefit of the labor which goes into
the property and gives it its existence and value.

Section 31. Payment of Wages in Scrip, etc. — Many states

1 People V. Remington, 45 Hun 329 (N.Y.) ; Raynes v. Kokomo Ladder, etc.
Co., 153 Ind. 315, 54 N.E. 1061 ; Johnston v. Barrills, 27 Ore. 256, 41 Pac. 656.

2 Bass V. Doermann, 112 Ind. 390, 15 N.E. 377.

« Pendergast v. Yanders, 124 Ind. 159, 24 N.E. 724.

* Palmer v. Van Santvoord, 153 N.Y. 612, 47 N.E. 915.
s Suddath v. Gallaher, 126 Mo. 393, 28 S.W. 880.

• People V. Remington, supra.

7 Falconio v. Larsen, 31 Oreg. 137, 48 Pac. 703 ; Union Trust Co. v. Southern
Sawmills & Lumber Co., 166 Fed. 193. « White v. Stanley, 29 Ohio St. 423.

9 Winrod v. Walters, 141 Cal. 399, 74 Pac. 1037.

>» Coe V. R. Co., 4 Stew. (31 N.J. Eq.) 129 ; In re Slomka, 117 Fed. 688.

" N.J., Acts 1896, ch. 185, sec. 83. (Declares claim a lien.)

« In re Kirby-Dennis Co., 95 Fed. 116 (C.C.A.).

»» Bell V. Hiner, 16 Ind. App. 184, 44 N.E. 576 ; Litzenberg v. Trust Co., 8
Utah 15, 28 Pac. 871 ; Reynolds v. Black, 91 Iowa 1, 58 N.W. 922.


have laws regulating the payment of wages with respect to the
medium of payment. Payment in scrip, tokens, store orders,
or non-negotiable paper is in general prohibited by the laws of
this class. ^ These laws take a variety of forms, and have been
the subject of much litigation in disputes as to their constitu-
tionality, and on this point the courts do not agree. It has been
held that it was a violation of such a law to issue by agreement
an order for merchandise ; ^ and that an employee accepting
scrip issued in violation of the law had no right of action to recover
its face value, and could convey none to an assignee.^ The laborer
did not forfeit his right to wages, however, by the acceptance of
the checks, though they were of no value to him even as evi-
dence ; but he might sue, as might his assignor in a proper case,
in an action for work and labor performed, and recover a quantum
meruit.'* A statute requiring all wage earners to be paid in
lawful money has been held not to be violated by the issue be-
tween paydays of checks for merchandise at the company's
store, monthly balances being paid in cash, but no unused checks
being redeemed ; ^ and a law prohibiting the issue of non-trans-
ferable scrip, and requiring the redemption of all scrip at its
"face value" in the hands of the holder, was said not to authorize
an assignee of scrip payable in merchandise to demand payment
in money.^ A law that is unique in the method proposed for
discouraging the use of scrip is one that levies a tax of twenty-five

• 111.. R.S., ch. 98, sec. 18; Ga., Civ. Code, sec. 1871 ; Ind., A.S., sec. 7060;
Acts 1903, ch. 171 ; N.J., G.S., p. 2343 ; N.Y., Con. L., ch. 31, sec. 10.

« Cumberland Glass Mfg. Co. v. State, 58 N.J.L. 224, 33 Atl. 210.
» Naglebaugh v. Mining Co., 21 Ind. App. 551, 51 N.E. 427.

• Naglebaugh v. Mining Co., supra.

' Avent Beattyville Coal Co. v. Com., 96 Ky. 218, 28 S.W. 502.

• Marriner v. Roper Co.. 112 N.C. 164, 16 S.E. 906.


per cent on all scrip, coupons, or orders issued in payment for
wages and not redeemed in money within thirty days after the
date of such issue.^ Laws that prohibit the payment of wages
in merchandise, orders, etc., are obvious and direct interferences
with the freedom of contract, but a law to this effect was en-
forced in New Jersey.^ A law requiring employers to redeem
in cash at their face value all coupons, scrip, or orders issued
by them in payment of wages has been held constitutional,^
and is equally binding on foreign corporations as on those formed
within the state ; * but a penal provision authorizing imprison-
ment for failure to redeem is unconstitutional, as such action
would amount to imprisonment for debt.^ An assignee's rights
are the same as those of the original holder, and no inquiry can
be raised as to the amount actually paid by the assignee for
his claim,^

On the other hand is the ruling that a provision that wages
may be paid only in lawful money interferes with the right of
contract, and is void ; ^ so of a law that prohibits the issue of
orders, etc., unless negotiable and redeemable at their face
value in lawful money.^ Laws applying only to mining and

1 Pa., B. Dig. p. 874.

» Cumberland Glass Mfg. Co. v. State, 58 N.J.L. 224, 33 Atl. 210.

» Knoxville Iron Co. v. Harbison, 183 U.S. 13, 22 Sup. Ct. 1 ; Johnson, Lytic
& Co. V. Spartan Mills, 68 S.C. 339, 47 S.E. 695 ; Union Sawmill Co. v. Felsenthal,
84 Ark. 494. 108 S.W. 217 ; Shortall v. Bridge, etc., Co., 45 Wash. 290, 88 Pac.
212 ; Peel Splint Coal Co. v. State, 36 W. Va. 802, 15 S.E. 1000.

* Dayton Coal & I. Co. v. Barton, 183 U.S. 23, 22 Sup. Ct. 5.

» State V. Paint Rock Coal & Coke Co., 8 Pickle (Tenn.) 81, 20 S.W. 499.

• Harbison v. Iron Co., 103 Tenn. 421, 53 S.W. 955.

' Godcharles v. Wigeman, 113 Pa. St. 431, 6 Atl. 354 ; Jordan v. State, 51 Tex.
Cr. App. 531, 103 S.W. 633 ; Kelleyville Coal Co. v. Harrier, 207 111. 624, 69 N.E.

» State V. Missouri Tie, etc., Co., 181 Mo. 536, 80 S.W. 933.


manufacturing companies have been declared unconstitutional,
as special and discriminatory ; ^ so of one exempting farm labor
from its provisions,^ or one applicable to corporations only.'

•State V. Goodwill, 33 W. Va. 179, 10 S.E. 285; State v. Loomis, 115 Mo.
307, 22 S.W. 350 ; Dixon v. Poe. 159 Ind. 492, 65 N.E. 518.

* Kelley ville Coal Co. v. Harrier, supra.

* State V. Haun, 61 Kans. 146, 59 Pac. 340. It is perhaps of sufficient import-
ance to notice here the status of corporations in respect of restrictive legislation
of the sort under discussion, inasmuch as diametrically opposite views seem to be
entertained by the courts of different states. Thus in the Haun case, corpora-
tions are said to be persons within the guarantee of the fourteenth amendment
as to the equal rights of persons (citing Santa Clara Co. v. Southern P. R. Co.,
118 U.S. 394, 6 Sup. Ct. 1132 ; Pembina Min., etc., Co. v. Pennsylvania, 125 U.S.
181, 8 Sup Ct. 737) and entitled to protection against unfair discrimination as
are other persons. Other courts have declared a law unconstitutional that dis-
criminated against corporations as compared with other employers (Johnson r.
Goodyear Min. Co., 127 Cal. 4, 59 Pac. 304; Toledo, etc., R. Co. v. Long, 169
Ind. 316, 82 N.E. 757; O'Connell r. Lumber Co., 113 Mich. 124, 71 N.W. 449;
Harbison v. Iron Co., 103 Tenn. 421, 53 S.W. 955 ; Santa Clara Co. v. Southern
P. R. Co., supra) ; while the supreme court of Arkansas held that while the law
governing the payment of wages to discharged employees might be invalid as to
individual employers, it was nevertheless valid as to corporations (Lecp v. R.
Co., 58 Ark. 507, 25 S.W. 75) ; and on the point being submitted by the legisla-
ture to the supreme court of Rhode Island, a law limiting the hours of labor of
employees on street railways was declared valid, one of the reasons assigned
being that the law applied to corporations. (Ten Hour Law, 24 R.I. 603, 54 Atl.

It should be observed that the doctrine applied by the courts of Arkansas and
Rhode Island, which was also approved by the Supreme Court of the United
States (St. Louis, I. M. & S. R. Co. v. Paul, 173 U.S. 404,19 Sup. Ct. 419 ; Ham-
mond Packing Co. v. State, 212 U.S. 322. 29 Sup. Ct. 370) was expressly based on
the reserved power of the state to amend the charters of corporations, which are
the creatures of the state. This view was taken, and for the reason assigned, in
cases in which laws requiring railroad and other corporations to pay their em-
ployees weekly were upheld. (Lawrence v. Rutland R. Co., 80 Vt. 370, 67 Atl.
1091 ; State v. Brown

Online LibraryLindley Daniel ClarkThe law of the employment of labor → online text (page 6 of 32)