338 U.S. 278 (1949), 28, Oakley v. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co.

Docket Nº:No. 28
Citation:338 U.S. 278, 70 S.Ct. 119, 94 L.Ed. 87
Party Name:Oakley v. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co.
Case Date:November 14, 1949
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 278

338 U.S. 278 (1949)

70 S.Ct. 119, 94 L.Ed. 87

Oakley

v.

Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co.

No. 28

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 14, 1949

Argued October 17-18, 1949

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. Under § 8(c) of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, the expiration of one year of reemployment of a veteran by his pre-service employer does not terminate the veteran's right to the seniority to which he is entitled by virtue of the Act's treatment of him as though he had remained continuously in his civilian employment. Fishgold v. Sullivan Corp., 328 U.S. 275; Trailmobile Co. v. Whirls, 331 U.S. 40, distinguished. Pp. 279-285.

2. A United States District Court could entertain a complaint filed by a veteran to enforce his right to such seniority, even though the complaint was not filed until nearly three months after the expiration of such year of reemployment. Pp. 284-285.

170 F.2d 1008, 171 F.2d 128, reversed.

The District Court dismissed two actions brought by veterans under § 8(e) of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 to enforce their rights to seniority under § 8. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 170 F.2d 1008, 171 F.2d 128. This Court granted certiorari. 336 U.S. 943. Reversed and remanded, p. 285.

Page 279

BURTON, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

In both No. 28 and No. 29, the issue is whether, under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940,1 one year of reemployment of a veteran by his pre-service employer terminated that veteran's right to the seniority to which he was entitled by virtue of that Act's treatment of him as though he had remained continuously in his civilian employment. For the reasons hereinafter stated, and pursuant to our previous decisions, our answer is "No." In No. 29, there is the further question whether, after the expiration of such year, a United States District Court could entertain a complaint filed by the veteran to enforce his right to such seniority. Our answer is "Yes."

In each case, a veteran sought, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, a declaratory judgment and an order restoring him to the seniority which he claimed he would have had if he had remained continuously in his civilian employment. In No. 28, Oakley, the petitioner, alleged that, when he was inducted into the armed forces on May 7, 1944, he was employed as a locomotive machinist at Loyall, Kentucky,

Page 280

by the respondent, Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company; that, on May 22, 1946, he was honorably discharged from the armed forces; that, on July 17, 1946, he was reemployed by the respondent as a locomotive machinist with seniority from that date; that, on July 1, 1945, while he was with the armed forces, the respondent's Loyall Shop was transferred to Corbin, Kentucky; "that, had he not been in the armed forces, he would have been transferred to the Corbin Shop with seniority from July 1, 1945 . . . ;" and that, because of the respondent's failure to credit him with seniority from the earlier date, he has been subjected to certain disadvantages in working hours and to an increased possibility of being laid off from his employment. He filed his complaint, April 14, 1947, under § 8(e) of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, 54 Stat. 891, as reenacted, 60 Stat. 341, 50 U.S.C. App. § 308(e). The court, on its own motion, assigned the case for argument

upon the question whether, under the opinion of the Supreme Court in The Trailmobile Company et al. v. Whirls, (No. 85, April 14, 1947), the...

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