Monroe v. Standard Oil Company

RESPONDENT: Standard Oil Company
LOCATION: 1980 Democratic National Convention, Madison Square Garden

DOCKET NO.: 80-298
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 452 US 549 (1981)
ARGUED: Mar 04, 1981
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1981

Alan I. Horowitz - on behalf of the Petitioner
Paul S. McAuliffe - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Monroe v. Standard Oil Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 04, 1981 in Monroe v. Standard Oil Company

Paul S. McAuliffe:

The union has--

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Monroe v. Standard Oil.

Alan I. Horowitz:

Without pay.

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Horowitz, I think you may proceed when you are 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 6th Circuit.

The issue involves the construction of Section 38 U.S.C. 2021(b)(3), a section of what are commonly known as the veterans's reemployment rights provisions.

This section, enacted in 1968, provides that reservists

"shall not be denied retention in employment, or any promotion or other incident or advantage of employment because of any obligation as a member of a reserve component of the armed forces. "

The facts of this case are as follows.

Petitioner is employed at respondent's refinery in Lima, Ohio.

This refinery operates around the clock, seven days a week, three eight-hour shifts per day.

Each employee works five days per week for a total of 40 hours, according to a rotating shift schedule that is established by the respondent.

During 1975 and 1976 petitioner was a member of a reserve component of the armed forces, which entailed certain training obligations.

As a general rule he was required to train with his unit on one weekend per month.

In establishing the shift schedule, respondent took no cognizance of petitioner's training obligations and therefore petitioner was frequently scheduled to work on weekend days that conflicted with his training obligations.

Thus, unless he was able to arrange a voluntary exchange of shifts with a fellow employee, petitioner was unable to work 40 hours during those weeks, and respondent made other arrangements for other employees to substitute for him.

As a result, petitioner lost 192 hours of work and salary over a 15-month period.

Now, the parties entered into a stipulation in the district court and stipulated that respondent took no steps to provide petitioner with any work hours during these weeks to substitute for those lost as a result of his military obligations.

Petitioner brought this suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleging that Respondent's failure to attempt to accommodate his reserve obligations violated his statutory rights guaranteed by Section 2021(b)(3).

Based upon a stipulated set of facts the district court granted petitioner's motion for summary judgment.

The court held that respondent had denied the petitioner the right to a 40-hour week, an incident or advantage of employment under the Act by refusing to take account of his reserve obligations in its scheduling.

On appeal the Court of Appeals reversed.

The Court of Appeals agreed that the right to be scheduled for a 40-hour work week at respondent's refinery was an incident or advantage of employment within the meaning of the statute.

However, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the district court and with other courts of appeals as to the scope of the protection that the statute provides such a benefit.

The Court of Appeals held that Section 2021(b)(3) protects reservists only against intentional unequal treatment or on-the-job bias by their employers.

However, if a reservist is denied an employment benefit because of the operation of "a facially neutral rule" that is applied uniformly to all employees, in that case, the court held that the statute is not violated.

Applying these principles to this case, the court held that respondent had not violated the Act.

Petitioner's work schedule was established without regard to his training obligations and his training-related absences were treated just as other nonmilitary absences of another employee would have been treated.

Thus, in the view of the Court of Appeals, neutral treatment, not bias, was shown.