Tilton v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

RESPONDENT: Missouri Pacific Railroad Company
LOCATION: New York Times Office

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 376 US 169 (1964)
ARGUED: Jan 07, 1964
DECIDED: Feb 17, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Tilton v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

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

Earl Warren:

Number 49, Donald I. Tilton et al., Petitioners, versus Missouri Pacific Railroad Company.


Mr. Heymann

Philip B. Heymann:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case arises under Section 9 of the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 1948.

That Section and its predecessor provisions which go back constant -- continually to 1940 draft act give veterans certain reemployment rights on their return from military service.

Stating the facts of the case requires making clear the relationship between three of the many categories of employees in the railroads, maintenance and repair shops.

The first category is that of carman.

Carman does the most skilled work of the three.

Gets paid the highest pay and has its own seniority roster.

The second category is that of carman helper that does less skilled work, gets paid on a lower scale and has -- the carman helpers have their own seniority roster.

The third category is something of a hybrid between the two.

Because of shortages among carmen, sometimes helpers are upgraded to do carman's work.

An upgraded carman helper does carman's work, gets paid a carman's wage but doesn't obtain carman's seniority until he's worked 1040 days, “a 1040-day training period as an upgraded carman helper.”

In the meantime, he retains his seniority as a helper and he also obtains something very much like seniority as an upgraded helper.

He gets a date when he's upgraded and that date determines his right to demand work as a carman, work towards 1040 days.

In terms of these three categories, the facts of the case can be simply stated.

Tilton, Beck and McClearn were already upgraded helpers when they went into the military service.

The only discretion that management has had been exercised at that point in their -- where there is apparently discretion in upgrading but they'd already been upgraded.

During the time they were in military service, they were passed in the number of days work towards 1040-day requirement by a number of junior upgraded helpers who would've had a subordinate right to work had these veterans been present.

Potter Stewart:

Going back just a moment, I just don't quite --

Philip B. Heymann:

Yes, Justice Stewart --

Potter Stewart:

-- understand what determines whether a helper is to become an upgraded helper.

Philip B. Heymann:

The -- the record indicates – there was a lot of argument, Justice Stewart in the record about whether upgrading is automatic.

I have no idea why there was that argument.

There is --

Potter Stewart:

Was it not really an issue here?

Philip B. Heymann:

I don't think it's an issue at all.

Potter Stewart:

These people all were upgraded.

Philip B. Heymann:

They were all upgraded when they went and this is also true in the next -- well, in the next case as an apprentice.