Monroe v. Standard Oil Co.
Annotate this Case
452 U.S. 549 (1981)
U.S. Supreme Court
Monroe v. Standard Oil Co., 452 U.S. 549 (1981)
Monroe v. Standard Oil Co.
Argued March 4, 1981
Decided June 17, 1981
452 U.S. 549
The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 provides in 38 U.S.C. § 2021(b)(3) that any employee of a private employer
"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."
Petitioner was an employee in respondent's refinery, which operated 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and whose employees worked five 8-hour days weekly but in a different 5-day sequence each week. As a military reservist, petitioner had to attend training with his unit one weekend a month and for two weeks each summer. On a number of weekends, petitioner was required to attend training on days when he was scheduled to work at the refinery, and, in most instances, he was unable to exchange shifts with other employees, as he was permitted to do. Respondent provided him with leaves of absence to attend training, as required by 38 U.S.C. § 2024(d), but it did not pay him for the hours he did not work, nor did it take steps to permit him to make up those hours by working outside the normal schedule. Petitioner brought an action against respondent in Federal District Court, alleging, inter alia, that respondent had violated § 2021(b)(3). The District Court granted summary judgment for petitioner on the ground that respondent, by not scheduling petitioner for a full 40-hour week on those occasions when he was unable to exchange shifts, had denied him "an incident or advantage of employment" within the meaning of § 2021(b)(3), and awarded him an amount for wages lost on those "work dates when an accommodation should have been made." The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that respondent had taken no discriminatory action proscribed by § 2021(b)(3).
Held: Section 2021(b)(3) does not require an employer to make work scheduling accommodations for employee reservists not made for other employees. Pp. 452 U. S. 554-566.
(a) The legislative history indicates that § 2021(b)(3) was enacted for the significant but limited purpose of protecting the employee reservist from discrimination like discharge and demotion motivated
solely by reserve status. There is nothing in § 2021(b)(3) or its legislative history to indicate that Congress even considered imposing an obligation on employers to provide a special work scheduling preference, but rather the history suggests that Congress did not intend employers to provide special benefits to employee reservists not generally made available to other employees. Pp. 452 U. S. 554-562.
(b) While this case involves absences for weekend duty, § 2021(b)(3) refers to "any obligation as a member of a Reserve component." Accordingly, there is no principled way of distinguishing between an employer's obligation to make scheduling accommodations for weekends, as opposed to, for example, annual 2-week training periods, or even longer periods of training or duty. There is nothing in the legislative history to indicate that Congress intended reservists to be entitled to all "incidents and advantages of employment" accorded during their absence to working employees, including regular time and overtime pay. Pp. 452 U. S. 562-563.
(c) There is nothing in the statute or its history to support petitioner's contention that § 2021(b)(3) only requires an employer under the circumstances of this case to make a "reasonable accommodation" to employee reservists. Such a "reasonable accommodation" has already been made in § 204(d) by requiring employers to grant a leave of absence to reservists whose duties force them to miss time at work. To say that § 2021(b)(3) would be of little significance unless a "reasonable accommodation" requirement is imposed ignores the fact that the nondiscrimination requirements of the section already impose substantial obligations on employers by precluding them from ridding themselves of the inconveniences and productivity losses resulting from employee reservists' absence by discharging or otherwise disadvantaging such employees solely because of their military obligations. Pp. 452 U. S. 563-565.
613 F.2d 641, affirmed.
STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, MARSHALL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined, post, p. 452 U. S. 566.
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