Accardi v. Pennsylvania Railroad Company

RESPONDENT: Pennsylvania Railroad Company
LOCATION: South Carolina General Assembly

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 383 US 225 (1966)
ARGUED: Jan 20, 1966
DECIDED: Feb 28, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Accardi v. Pennsylvania Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 20, 1966 in Accardi v. Pennsylvania Railroad Company

Hugo L. Black:

Number 280, Pasquale J. Accardi and others against the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

Mr. Posner.

May it please the Court.

I should like to move the admission of Richard A. Posner of the New York Bar for purposes of arguing this case on the petitioner's behalf.

Hugo L. Black:

Motion is granted.

Richard A. Posner:

Mr. Justice Black, may it please the Court.

This is an action by six veterans of World War II against their former employer, the Pennsylvania Railroad to enforce claims based on the Section 8, the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940.

The Act provides for the representation of such claimants by the Department of Justice.

Petitioners prevailed in the District Court.

But the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed cases here on certiorari.

The facts were stipulated and may be briefly summarized.

Petitioners were hired in 1941 and 1942 as firemen on tugboats operated by the Railroad in New York Harbor.

Shortly after being hired, they left to enter military service in World War II and after serving for about three years, were honorably discharged.

The railroad as required in Section 8 (b) of the Act, restored petitioners to their old jobs as firemen.

In 1959, the job of firemen or as sometimes called oilier on all for the railroads diesel tugboats in New York Harbor was abolished on the ground that diesel tugboats don't need a fireman.

And this action of the railroad precipitated a major strike.

The strike was settled by an agreement between the railroad and the union representing its employees which provided among other things for separation allowances.

That is severance pay to be given those employees like petitioners whose jobs were abolished.

Now, the amount of these separation allowances was measured by the number of months of the employees compensated service for the railroad.

Compensated service, being a term defined in this fashion, a month of compensated service was any month in which the employee had worked at least one day for the railroad.

And a year of compensated service was 12 such months or a major portion thereof, seven months.

These petitioners, these veterans, of course, had not been able to work one day of month during their three years in military service in World War II.

And the railroad decided that their period of military service should not be counted as compensated service for purpose of computing the amount of the separation allowances to which they were entitled.

And the result was that each of these petitioners received some $1200 less in separation allowances than he would have received had his military service been counted or in other words had his civilian employment with the railroad never been interrupted by military service.

Wasn't there another option that the court could put bargaining agreement gave these people?

Richard A. Posner:

Well, employees –-

Stay on and they have 20 years to stay on that the job?

Richard A. Posner:

Employees who had 20 years seniority, seniority being measured from first being hired by the railroad were given an election.

Petitioner Accardi was the only one of the six veterans who qualified who have the 20 years.

He is the only one could elect and he elected instead to take these -- to take his separation allowance.