Women in Factories 1908: Muller v. Oregon
Muller v. State of Oregon
Muller v. State of Oregon, a 1908 U.S. Supreme Court case that, although appearing to support the health and welfare of female employees, actually resulted in extra protective legislation that was destructive to workplace equality for years. The issue was a 1903 Oregon legislation prohibiting women from working more than 10 hours in a single day. Curt Muller, the proprietor of a laundry, was fined $10 in 1905 for allowing a supervisor to force Mrs. E. Gotcher to work more than 10 hours.
Muller’s counsel, William D. Fenton, argued in front of the United States Supreme Court that the Act violated Mrs. Gotcher’s Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by prohibiting her from freely contracting with her employer. However, the state’s counsel, Louis D. Brandeis, opted to argue that because of their bodily differences from males, women need “particular protection.”