Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company

PETITIONER: Brotherhood Of Locomotive Engineers et al.
RESPONDENT: Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Co. et al.
LOCATION: Eastern District Court of Michigan

DOCKET NO.: 94-1592
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 516 US 152 (1996)
ARGUED: Oct 30, 1995
DECIDED: Jan 08, 1996

ADVOCATES:
Lawrence M. Mann - on behalf of the Petitioners
Malcolm L. Stewart - for federal respondent
Malcolm L. Stewart - on behalf of the Federal Respondent
Ronald M. Johnson - on behalf of the Railroad Respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 30, 1995 in Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 08, 1996 in Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 94-1592, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers versus the Santa Fe will be announced by Justice Kennedy.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

This case involves the Hours of Service Act Congress first passed in 1907 is designed for railway safety by limiting the number of hours a train crew may remain on duty.

It requires the railroads to provide crew members with a certain number of off duty rest periods of adequate rest and before a new shift can begin.

As a general rule, a train crew may not work more than 12 consecutive hours and when the limit is reached, the crew must ceased at once and a six number of hours of rest as I have indicated in the designated rest term must be afforded before the new shift can begin.

If a crew works more than 12 consecutives hours, as specified in the Act the railroad places heavy fines for each member of the crew who works beyond the permitted period.

This means that railroad try to schedule their operations so that a crew can change at a convenient terminal point but sometimes this cannot occur.

If the 12-hour limit is about to be reached, the railroad must stop the train so that the second crew can replace the first crew then the crew that is to be relieved at the end of the shift is now called the outlawed crew, and transportation of the fresh crew to the train and with the outlawed crew back to the rest point is called deadhead transportation.

This case involves the question of how to classify the time of the outlawed crew spends waiting for the deadhead transportation to arrive.

The petitioners of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the United Transportation Union claim that the waiting, a time is on-duty time that counts against the 12-hour limit.

The Railroad and the Federal Railroad Administration which is the agency that administers the Act says that the waiting time is not on-duty time.

They claim it so called limbo time.

This is a third category of time that the Act does recognize although it does not call it by this name.

Limbo time does not count for on-duty time or the crew’s rest time and limbo time is paid time.

We agree with the Railroads and Federal Railroad Administration at the time spent waiting for the deadhead transportation is not on-duty time, it is, in our view, limbo time.

The deadhead transportation for the outlawed crew has that character and we conclude that the time waiting for the deadhead transportation should be characterized the same way.

The time the employees spent in waiting for the deadhead transportation will not contribute to employee fatigue during the work assignment because of the interval rest period that will take place.

As our reading of the Act is in full accord with that given by the Seventh Circuit in the en banc decision, which we now review, the judgment is affirmed and the opinion for the Court is unanimous.