Ranger Div., Ryder Truck Lines, Inc. v. Bayne

Citation333 N.W.2d 891,214 Neb. 251
Decision Date06 May 1983
Docket NumberNo. 82-038,82-038
Parties, 39 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 43, 32 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 33,655, 1 A.D. Cases 435 RANGER DIVISION, RYDER TRUCK LINES, INC., Appellant and Cross-Appellee, v. Floyd E. BAYNE, Appellee and Cross-Appellant.
CourtSupreme Court of Nebraska

Syllabus by the Court

1. Equal Opportunity Commission: Appeal and Error. On appeal of a review by the District Court of an order of the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Supreme Court does not try the facts and will not disturb the District Court's findings if they are supported by substantial evidence; however, the District Court in the first instance and the Supreme Court on appeal must reach independent conclusions with respect to questions of law.

2. Constitutional Law: Discrimination. The federal government has not undertaken to preempt the right of the several states to legislate in the area of discriminatory employment practices.

3. Constitutional Law: Motor Carriers. The federal government's power to regulate commerce among the states does not exclude all state regulation of the subject.

4. Motor Carriers. The federal government has the power to establish qualifications with respect to drivers employed by an interstate carrier.

5. Motor Carriers. Where there exists a direct conflict between state and federal action affecting interstate commerce, state power must yield to federal power.

6. Motor Carriers: Discrimination. 49 C.F.R. § 391.41 (1978) constitutes a per se bona fide occupational qualification defense for a charge of discrimination brought under Neb.Rev.Stat. § 48-1104 (Reissue 1978) against an interstate carrier.

Peter Reed Corbin and Cindy L. Anderson of Corbin & Dickinson, Jacksonville, Fla., and David R. Buntain of Cline, Williams, Wright, Johnson & Oldfather, Lincoln, for appellant and cross-appellee.

Murphy, Pederson, Piccolo & Anderson, North Platt, for appellee and cross-appellant.

KRIVOSHA, C.J., BOSLAUGH, McCOWN, WHITE, HASTINGS, and CAPORALE, JJ., and COLWELL, District Judge, Retired.

CAPORALE, Justice.

Appellant, Ranger Division, Ryder Truck Lines, Inc. (Ranger), seeks to reverse the order of the District Court affirming the final order of the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (Commission) which found that Ranger had discriminated against appellee, Floyd E. Bayne. Bayne cross-appeals, asserting, on the one hand, that the District Court lacked jurisdiction and, on the other hand, that it should have awarded him an attorney fee.

Ranger contends the District Court erred by (1) holding that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do not provide a per se bona fide occupational qualification defense for it as an interstate carrier subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (DOT), and (2) holding that Ranger's reliance on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations was not a rational basis in fact for its refusal to employ Bayne.

We agree with Ranger's argument in connection with its first assignment of error, reverse the order of the District Court, and dismiss Bayne's cross-appeal.

We address first the cross-appeal. Bayne complains that since he did not personally receive a copy of the petition on appeal to the District Court, but rather a copy was sent to his attorney of record before the Commission, he was not notified of the commencement of the appeal as allegedly required by the applicable statute, Neb.Rev.Stat. § 48-1120(2) (Reissue 1978). That subsection of the statute provides: "(2) Such proceeding shall be initiated by the filing of a petition in such court, together with a transcript of the record upon the hearing before the commission and the service of a copy of such petition upon the commission and upon all parties who appeared at the hearing. Thereupon the court shall have jurisdiction of the proceeding and of the question determined therein." The statute prima facie requires service of a copy of the petition upon the appropriate parties. It does not require any particular form of service of such petition. Therefore, since the requisite petition was served on appellee's attorney by mail, as provided for in Neb.Rev.Stat. § 25-534 (Reissue 1979), substantial compliance was had with § 48-1120(2). Bayne proposes an ingenious argument, but one without substance, to the effect that he had no attorney of record in the District Court at the relevant time, since the petition constituted the first entry of the case into that court. This may be true in a limited technical sense, but in no way was Bayne or his attorney without a full awareness of the fact that the case was being appealed to the District Court, as routinely provided for in § 48-1120(2). "The statute requiring notice to be served ... must, of course, be substantially complied with; but, since the sole object of the appeal is to enable parties to obtain justice, we see no reason for judging harshly or condemning for trivial faults, the proceeding by which it is sought to transfer the cause to the appellate court." Jarvis v. Chase County, 64 Neb. 74, 75, 89 N.W. 624, 625 (1902). Since we find that the District Court's order must be reversed, we need not consider the question as to the nonallowance of an attorney fee.

We now turn to Ranger's appeal. This court does not try the facts and will not disturb the District Court's findings on review of a commission order if the District Court's findings are supported by substantial evidence. Farmer v. Richman Gordman Stores, Inc., 203 Neb. 222, 278 N.W.2d 332 (1979); Snygg v. City of Scottsbluff Police Dept., 201 Neb. 16, 266 N.W.2d 76 (1978); Duffy v. Physicians Mut. Ins. Co., 191 Neb. 233, 214 N.W.2d 471 (1974). However, this court has the obligation to reach independent conclusions with respect to questions of law. See Phelps County Savings Co. v. Dept. of Banking & Finance, 211 Neb. 683, 320 N.W.2d 99 (1982), holding that, on remand, an administrative agency, although it may enforce legislative policy committed to it, must follow the court's determinations as to questions of law. See, also, The 20's, Inc. v. Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, 190 Neb. 761, 212 N.W.2d 344 (1973), indicating that questions of law in administrative matters are for the court.

The relevant stipulated facts are that Ranger is an interstate motor carrier transporting special commodity freight. As such it is subject to regulation by DOT, including 49 C.F.R. § 391.41 (1978), which provides: "(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle unless he is physically qualified to do so and, except as provided in § 391.67, has on his person the original, or a photographic copy, of a medical examiner's certificate that he is physically qualified to drive a motor vehicle.

"(b) A person is physically qualified to drive a motor vehicle if he--

"(1) Has no loss of a foot, a leg, a hand, or an arm, or has been granted a waiver pursuant to § 391.49;

"(2) Has no impairment of the use of a foot, a leg, a hand, fingers, or an arm, and no other structural defect or limitation, which is likely to interfere with his ability to control and safely drive a motor vehicle, or has been granted a waiver pursuant to § 391.49 upon a determination that the impairment will not interfere with his ability to control and safely drive a motor vehicle."

Bayne had, due to an accident in November of 1949, lost part of his thumb and all of the fingers of his right hand. He nonetheless worked as a driver for a number of employers from 1952 through 1977 and had a good safety record. On January 16, 1978, he applied for employment with Ranger at its Omaha terminal. A physician examining Bayne on behalf of Ranger first certified him as qualified for employment as a driver, but later stated in a letter that she had not been aware of the pertinent regulation set forth above and that in view of that regulation Bayne was in fact not qualified. Two other physicians...

To continue reading

Request your trial
12 cases
  • Airport Inn, Inc. v. Nebraska Equal Opportunity Com'n, 83-303
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • July 13, 1984
    ...support the district court's order. We do, however, make our own determination with respect to questions of law. Ranger Division v. Bayne, 214 Neb. 251, 333 N.W.2d 891 (1983); Zalkins Peerless Co. v. Nebraska Equal Opp. Comm., 217 Neb. 289, 348 N.W.2d 846 The evidence most favorable to the ......
  • Ventura v. State Equal Opportunity Com'n
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • June 10, 1994
    ...record was permissible under § 25-534, since § 20-333 did not require any particular form of service. See, also, Ranger Division v. Bayne, 214 Neb. 251, 333 N.W.2d 891 (1983) (substantial compliance with notice requirement where service is made upon attorney of record, and no particular for......
  • Chadron Energy Corp. v. First Nat. Bank of Omaha, 84-553
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • January 17, 1986
    ...not review the case de novo on the record but, rather, determine whether the decision is contrary to the law. See Ranger Division v. Bayne, 214 Neb. 251, 333 N.W.2d 891 (1983). The fact that there may have been equitable relief sought initially is not binding. A petition in equity may be ch......
  • Colorado Civil Rights Com'n v. ConAgra Flour Mill. Co., 85CA1432
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • March 5, 1987
    ...contention that the differences in statutory language are "minor" is without merit. Ranger Division, Ryder Truck Lines, Inc. v. Bayne, 214 Neb. 251, 333 N.W.2d 891 (1983) is also distinguishable because the employer there was an interstate carrier subject to DOT regulations, which the Nebra......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT