were permitted to intervene in suits by the Secretary under various provisions of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Trbovich was a suit by the Secretary to challenge a union election that had already been conducted. Although Title IV of the LMRDA gives the Secretary the exclusive authority to bring such a suit, 29 U.S.C. § 483, the Supreme Court held that the statute did not bar intervention by the employee who had originally complained to the Secretary so long as the intervention was limited to the claims of illegality raised by the Secretary. In Hodgson, the Secretary had sued to challenge illegal trusteeships under Title III of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 461, Et seq. That title provides for private actions when the Secretary has not brought an action himself. Once the Secretary does so, the District Court in which he has filed has exclusive jurisdiction over the matter. In that case, the Court of Appeals for this Circuit allowed intervention. Both Trbovich and Hodgson are, however, distinguishable from this case.
Trbovich and Hodgson both indicate that the Court must look closely not only at the statute's language, but also at its purpose and legislative history to determine whether a right to intervene exists. An examination of the purpose and legislative history of Section 16(c) supports the Court's conclusion from the statutory language itself that intervention by private parties into the Secretary's suit is barred.
Although the statutory scheme at issue in Trbovich made the Secretary's suit the exclusive remedy, it did not deal with the question of private intervention into that suit. Section 16(c), in contrast, specifically extinguishes the right of an employee to become a party plaintiff after the Secretary has filed suit. See Usery, supra, 418 F. Supp. at 1040. This evinces a Congressional intent that an employee not be permitted to become a party plaintiff in any suit, including that filed by the Secretary, after the Secretary has filed his complaint. The legislative history buttresses that conclusion. Prior to 1974, Section 16(c) empowered the Secretary to bring an action only after a written request had been filed by an employee claiming entitlement under the Act to unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation. The consent of any employee to the bringing of such an action by the Secretary, unless such action was dismissed without prejudice on the motion of the Secretary, constituted a waiver of the employee's own right to sue under Section 16(b). In 1974, Section 16(c) was amended to provide that the Secretary's suit itself acted to extinguish all private rights to both sue under Section 16(b) and "become a party plaintiff to any such action." Congress intended then to move from a situation where the Secretary's suit alone did not bar private action to one where it acted to extinguish private rights.
The House Report accompanying its version of the 1974 amendment provides an additional indication of Congressional intent to foreclose all private action subsequent to the Secretary's filing. The House Report indicates that, in employing the phrase "any such action," Congress intended to preclude employees from becoming parties plaintiff in all suits to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation, not simply to preclude intervention in private suits. "Any such action" includes a suit filed by the Secretary under 16(c). The House Report states that the section:
(authorizes) the Secretary to sue for back wages . . . but also to sue for an equal amount of liquidated damages without requiring a written request from the employee. . . . In the event the Secretary brings such an action, the right of an employee provided by section 16(b) of the act to bring an action on behalf of himself, or to become party to such an action would terminate, unless such action is dismissed without prejudice, on motion by the Secretary. H.R.Rep.No.913, 93d Cong., 2d Sess. 15 (1974), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News pp. 2811, 2825.