Cafeteria & Restaurant Workers v. McElroy

PETITIONER: Cafeteria & Restaurant Workers
LOCATION: Trailways Bus Terminal

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 367 US 886 (1961)
ARGUED: Jan 12, 1961
DECIDED: Jun 19, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Cafeteria & Restaurant Workers v. McElroy

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 12, 1961 (Part 2) in Cafeteria & Restaurant Workers v. McElroy

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 12, 1961 (Part 1) in Cafeteria & Restaurant Workers v. McElroy

Earl Warren:

Number 97, Cafeteria and Restaurant Workers Union, Local 473, AFL-CIO, et al., Petitioners, versus Neil H. McElroy et al.

Mr. Dunau.

Bernard Dunau:

May it please the Court.

This case can be put in quick focus.

A civilian, non-governmental employee works as a short-order cook at a cafeteria located on the premises of the Gun Factory.

She works for a civilian, non-governmental employer who operates the cafeteria pursuant to a contract with the Gun Factory.

The Superintendent of the Gun Factory and his Security Officer calls the short-order cook to lose her job because she allegedly fails to meet security requirements.

There is no disclosure of what the security requirements constitute.

There is no statement of reasons particularizing the respects in which the employee allegedly fails to meet them.

And there is no hearing of any kind at which to know or meet the evidence supporting the bare conclusion.

Our question is whether such action by governmental officers is authorized and if authorized, whether it is constitutional.

What happened here?

On November 15th, 1956, the employer operated three main cafeterias on the premises of the Naval Gun Factory, government land.

He operated those cafeterias pursuant to an Agreement with the Board of Governors of the Naval Gun Factory cafeterias, a group of seven civilian governmental employees appointed by the Superintendent.

One of the provisions of that Agreement said this, "In no event shall the Concessionaire engage or continue to engage for operations under this Agreement, personnel who failed to meet the security requirements or other requirements under applicable regulations of the Activity, as determined by the Security Officer of the Activity."

The employees working at those cafeterias were represented by the petitioner Union in collective bargaining.

The Union had been certified as the exclusive representative in 1942 by the National Labor Relations Board and collective bargaining agreements have entered ever -- into ever since.

Each collective bargaining agreement contained the provision that no employee shall be suspended or discharged without good and sufficient cause.

On November 15th, 1956, one of the employees working there was a person named Rachel Brawner, who worked as a short-order cook.

She had worked at that shop -- at that cafeteria for six and one-half years.

She was a first-rate employee whose performance of work was never questioned as being altogether satisfactory.

Felix Frankfurter:

Does the length of service make a difference?

Bernard Dunau:

I think it makes a difference, Your Honor, in terms of the suggestion that she has not been injured on the loss of his job.

I think that when a person has had a job for six and a half years, it goes a rather a long way to say that the loss of that job is not an injury.

Felix Frankfurter:

I should think if a person loses a job, even if she's been there six and a half weeks.

Bernard Dunau:

I go along entirely with that and go further to say a person who's been denied an opportunity to get a job has also been injured as well as the person who has lost a job.

Potter Stewart:

She had acquired certain rights by virtue of her seniority haven't she had under the collective bargaining agreement.

Bernard Dunau:

Under the collective bargaining agreement, by virtue of seniority, she would have priority over those below her in terms of layoff, at least.

Potter Stewart:


Felix Frankfurter:

And on constant, she would've lost if she had been transferred to another place?