Coffy v. Republic Steel Corporation

PETITIONER: Coffy
RESPONDENT: Republic Steel Corporation
LOCATION: Public Service Commission

DOCKET NO.: 79-81
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 447 US 191 (1980)
ARGUED: Feb 27, 1980
DECIDED: Jun 10, 1980

ADVOCATES:
Alan I. Horowitz - for petitioner, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court
Michael A. Nims - for respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Coffy v. Republic Steel Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 27, 1980 in Coffy v. Republic Steel Corporation

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Coffy against Republic Steel Corporation.

Mr. Horowitz, I think you may proceed when you're ready.

Alan I. Horowitz:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is here on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

It concerns the proper interpretation of the statutory provisions that guarantee certain reemployment rights to veterans upon their return to employment.

These provisions are now codified in 38 U.S.C., 2021. The question here is how those provisions apply to the supplemental unemployment benefits or SUB's that are provided under the collective-bargaining agreement between respondent and the United Steel-workers.

Specifically, the question is whether the guarantee against loss of seniority under the Act requires that the time spent by a veteran in the service be included in the time used to compute SUB's.

SUB's are payments that are made by the employer to employees who have been laid off.

These payments are over and above the unemployment compensation that the employee otherwise receives from the State.

Under the SUB plan involved in this case, which is set out beginning at page 17 of the appendix, SUB payments are made on a weekly basis for a period of up to 52 weeks.

That period depends upon the number of SUB credits that the employee has accrued.

The amount of each weekly payment is determined according to a formula set out in Section 1 of the plan.

That formula depends on several factors, including the employee's present salary and his number of dependents and the amount of compensation that he receives from the State.

The formula does not depend on the amount of time that the employee has been employed.

Therefore, there is no dispute in this case about the amount of each weekly benefit that was received by petitioner.

What the dispute in this case does concern, is the length of the time period over which this weekly SUB payments continue.

This period is determined by the number of SUB credits.

And these credits are earned through the passage of time as described in Section 2 of the SUB plan on page 19.

One-half credit is earned per week.

An eligible week for which 1/2 credit maybe on, is one and which the employee has any of the following hours; hours worked for the company, hours that are not worked but for which the employee is paid.

For example, vacation time or time spend on jury duty and also, certain categories of hours not worked and for which the employee is not paid, where the employee is performing certain duties for the local union or as on a certain specified disability leave.

When an employee is laid off and receives weekly payments, he uses up the SUB credits.

Finally, under the plan an employee is not eligible to receive SUB payments at all, no matter how many credits he has accrued until he has two years of continuous service with the employer.

As an example of how the system works, if an employee begin work for the company and worked or engaged in time of these other eligible activities for continuous period the year and a half and was then laid off he would have accrued 39 SUB credits by that time.

That would be at the rate of 1/2 credit per week.

However, because he had not reached the 2-year eligibility threshold, he would not receive any SUB payments when he was laid off.

In this case the petitioner began working for respondent in 1968.

And work for respondent for a period of four-and-half months during that time.

He was then laid off and he then left respondent's employment.

He had accrued 9 SUB credits during the time that he was employed in 1968.