CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT.
Marshall, J., wrote the opinion of the Court, in which all other Members joined except Douglas, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Opinion of the Court by MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, announced by MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER.
Through the Military Selective Service Act, Congress has sought to protect veterans returning to civilian jobs from being penalized for having served in the Armed Forces. Section 9 of the Act, 62 Stat. 614, as amended, 50 U. S. C. App. § 459, ensures a returning serviceman the right to be restored to his job with the same levels of seniority, status, and pay that he would have enjoyed if he had held the job throughout the time he was in the military.*fn1 This case presents the question whether the statute entitles a veteran to vacation benefits when, because of his departure for military service, he has failed
to satisfy a substantial work requirement upon which the vacation benefits are conditioned.
Petitioner, Earl R. Foster, began working full time for respondent Dravo Corp. in 1965. He worked 22 weeks for the company during that year and earned 20 hours of paid vacation eligibility.*fn2 In 1966, he worked the entire year and earned the standard second-year vacation benefits,*fn3 for which he subsequently accepted payment.
In March of the following year, petitioner took a military leave of absence from his job. Before leaving, he worked the first seven weeks of 1967 for the company, and upon his return some 18 months later he worked the last 13 weeks in 1968. Because the collective-bargaining agreement between petitioner's union and Dravo required employees to work a minimum of 25 weeks in each calendar year in order to earn full vacation benefits,*fn4
Foster was not awarded any benefits for either year. Since that time, he has continued to work full time for Dravo and has received full vacation benefits from the company for each year of his employment.
Unhappy with the denial of vacation benefits for 1967 and 1968, petitioner brought suit against Dravo in the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.*fn5 He sought credit for full vacation benefits in both years, claiming that since he would have earned two vacations if he had worked for respondent throughout the time he was in the service, § 9 of the Military Selective Service Act requires that he be credited with the benefits even though he failed to meet the 25-week work requirement in either year.
The District Court held that since the vacation benefits in question did not accrue automatically with continued employment, it did not violate the statute to deny them to employees on military leave of absence. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed with the District Court that petitioner had no statutory right to full vacation benefits. From its examination of the contract and other related factors, the court concluded that the vacation right in dispute was not a prequisite of seniority but an earned benefit, and was thus unavailable to a returning serviceman who had not satisfied the work requirement. Noting that a limited pro rata ...