Tilton v. Missouri Pacific R. Co. - 376 U.S. 169 (1964)
U.S. Supreme Court
Tilton v. Missouri Pacific R. Co., 376 U.S. 169 (1964)
Tilton v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Co.
Argued January 7, 1964
Decided February 17, 1964
376 U.S. 169
Petitioners were employees of respondent railroad who had been provisionally "upgraded" (advanced) from helpers to journeymen in accordance with an agreement between their union and the railroad, under which permanent seniority status as journeymen could be achieved following completion of a prescribed work period in the upgraded position. Petitioners' completion of the work period was delayed by their absence in military service, resulting in previously junior nonveterans completing the work period before petitioners, and thereby attaining status senior to that of petitioners. Seeking restoration of seniority rights under Section 9 of the Universal Military Training and Service Act, petitioners brought this action in the District Court, which denied relief, and the Court of Appeals affirmed on the ground that petitioners' promotions were subject to contingencies and "variables" which precluded their advancement in status under the Act.
1. Under § 9(c)(1) and the "escalator principle" embodied in § 9(c)(2) of the Act, petitioners, upon completion of the work period, were entitled to seniority as of the earlier date on which they would have completed the work period but for their absence in military service. Diehl v. Lehigh Valley R. Co., 348 U.S. 960, followed. Pp. 376 U. S. 175-177.
2. Petitioners' advancement, unlike that involved in McKinney v. Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co., 357 U. S. 265, did not depend upon the exercise of management discretion, but was reasonably automatic and foreseeable. Pp. 376 U. S. 180-181.
306 F.2d 870 reversed and remanded.