Brooks v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

PETITIONER: Brooks
RESPONDENT: Missouri Pacific Railroad Company
LOCATION: New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department

DOCKET NO.: 53
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 376 US 182 (1964)
ARGUED: Jan 07, 1964 / Jan 08, 1964
DECIDED: Feb 17, 1964

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Brooks v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 07, 1964 in Brooks v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 08, 1964 in Brooks v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

Earl Warren:

Robert C. Brooks, Petitioner, versus Missouri Pacific Railroad.

Mr. Heymann, you may continue your argument.

Philip B. Heymann:

Thank you Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

I'd like to begin my argument by making clear one point that is crucial to our case and then I'm afraid I left very obscure yesterday.

We are not claiming that the veteran has any rights in a higher position until after he has fully completed any work requirement that the employer imposes.

He must actually work the number of days the employer requires before he has any rights in a higher position.

Now, to take an example that will make that absolutely clear.

If the employer -- if the employee has worked 100 days before he goes into military service and then misses, let's say 600 days of a 1040-day period, because of his military service.

When he returns, he must work 940 more days.

He must get in 1040 days of actual work.

This -- this case, the Brooks case, and the Tilton case which was the last one, only arise after he's actually completed 1040 days of actual work.

At that point, he says, “I'd like my seniority date to be placed so I haven't lost my relative seniority position.”

And that's where these cases begin after 1040 days of actual work.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

(Inaudible)

Philip B. Heymann:

That's it Justice Brennan.

He has to work 1040 actual days of work -- military service not counted towards those.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

He has no -- he has no right to work those 1040 days that's involved, doesn't he?

Philip B. Heymann:

He has no right -- he has actually under the contract on his return, certain rights to work ahead of other people.

In the Brooks case, an apprentice has a right to continue his apprenticeship.

In the cases before this, a upgraded helper has a right to work ahead of those who were junior to him in upgrading but does it on -- he has certain contract rights but --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

But that's all --

Philip B. Heymann:

That's all --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

-- is it layoff or a shutdown?

Philip B. Heymann:

In -- if there is a layoff, if there's a shutdown, anything that happens after his military service is at the employee's peril.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

He is subject to all those perils --

Philip B. Heymann:

He's subject to all those perils.

Now, we -- I had argued yesterday that the function of the statute, or the most important function is to grant the veteran as a matter of statutory right, what would've been his as a matter of contract right, had he been “continuously employed.”

Those words have been used all the way back to fiscal decision at the very beginning.

I then argued that the quotes were taken from around the words “continuously employed” in a Diehl for the first time.

The issue what “continuously employed” meant was squarely faced and decided and it was held that it means continuously at work when -- when the veteran would've had a right to work.