Middleton v. Texas Power & Light Co. - 249 U.S. 152 (1919)
U.S. Supreme Court
Middleton v. Texas Power & Light Co., 249 U.S. 152 (1919)
Middleton v. Texas Power & Light Company
Submitted December 18, 1918
Decided March 3, 1919
249 U.S. 152
There is a strong presumption that discriminations in state legislation are based on adequate grounds, and the mere fact that a law regulating certain classes might properly have included others does not condemn it under the equal protection clause. P. 249 U. S. 157.
The Texas Workmen's Compensation Act, regulating the rights and
liabilities of employers and employees respecting disabling and fatal injuries in the employment, is expressly inapplicable to domestic servants, farm laborers, common carrier railway employees, laborers in cotton gins, and employees of employers employing not more than five. Held that there are adequate grounds for each of these exceptions. Id.
The discrimination resulting between employees engaged in the same kind of work where one employer exercises his option to come under the act and another does not is likewise consistent with the equal protection clause. P. 249 U. S. 159.
Construed as binding all employees who remain in the employment after notice that their employer has subscribed to compensation insurance under it, the act is not open to the objection of being optional to the employer while compulsory upon his employees when he accepts it, since the latter, by thus remaining, exercise their option also. P. 249 U. S. 161.
As the status of employer and employee is voluntary, and in view of their different relations to the common undertaking, it is clearly within legislative discretion, and not a denial of equal protection, to leave the initiative to the former in adopting the new terms of employment, with the option to the latter of accepting them, too, after notice, or withdrawing from the service. Id.
A plan imposing upon the employer responsibility for making compensation for disabling or fatal injuries, irrespective of the question of fault, and requiring the employee to assume all risk of damages over and above the statutory schedule, when established as a reasonable substitute for the legal measure of duty and responsibility previously existing, may be made compulsory upon employees as well as employers without depriving either of liberty in violation of the due process clause. P. 249 U. S. 163.
108 Tex. 96 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.