« AnteriorContinuar »
The second ground upon which the statute, as amended, is assailed is that it constitutes a denial of the equal protection of the laws.
It is urged that the prohibition of the amendatory act applies only to those employees of railroad corporations who were embraced within the provision of the original statute, and to the enforcement of the particular liabilities which that statute defined. The limitation to a
. particular class of employees of railroad corporations is based upon the decisions of the State court that the benefits of the original statute were confined to those who were engaged in the hazardous business of operating railroads. (Deppe v. R. Ř. Co., 36 Iowa 52; Malone v. Railway Co., 65 Iowa 417; Akeson v. Railway Co., 106 Iowa 54.) It is said that all employees of the plaintiffs in error may become members of the relief department and that the limited application of the amendment, as to the effect of the acceptance of benefits under the membership contract, is an invalid discrimination.
It was, however, entirely competent for the legislature in enacting the prohibition, for the purpose of securing the enforcement of the liability it had defined, to limit it to those cases in which the liability
As the purpose of the amendment was to supplement the original statute, the classification was properly the same. And with respect to subsequent transactions the amendment must be regarded as having the same validity as it would have had if it had formed a part of the earlier enactment. No criticism on the ground of discrimination can successfully be addressed to the amendatory act which would not likewise impeach the statute in its earlier form.
But the propriety of the classification of the original statute was considered and upheld by this court. And the validity of legislation abrogating the fellow-servant rule, both with respect to the class of cases embraced in the statute, and also where it is abolished as to railway employees generally, has been sustained. (Minneapolis & St. Louis Ry. Co. v. Herrick, supra; Missouri Railway Co. v. Mackey, supra; Louisville & Nashville R. R. Co. v. Melton, 218 U. S. 36; Mobile, Jackson & Kansas City R. R. Co. v. Turnipseed, 219 U. S. 35.) In view of the full discussion of this subject in the recent decisions above cited, nothing further need be said upon this point.
We find none of the objections which have been made to the validity of the amendatory act to be well taken, and the judgment is, therefore,
EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN-HOURS OF LABOR—CONSTITUTIONALITY OF STATUTE-POLICE POWER— Withey v. Bloem, Supreme Court of Michigan, 128 Northwestern Reporter, page 913.-An act of the legislature of Michigan, No. 285, Acts of 1909, limits the hours of labor of females employed in any factory, mill, or warehouse, etc., or in any place where any kind of manufacturing is carried on, to 54 hours per week, and not more than 10 hours in any one day. Dressmaking, millinery establishments, laundries and mercantile establishments are included within the law, but persons engaged in preserving perishable goods in fruit and vegetable canning establishments are excluded.
The International Seal and Lock Company had in its employment a number of females which it employed for longer periods than those indicated by the statute. In an attempt by the commissioner of labor of the State to enforce the law, the question of its constitutionality was raised and it was held in the circuit court of Barry County to be class legislation. On appeal this position was held incorrect by the supreme court of the State and the law was declared constitutional. Judge Moore, who delivered the opinion of the court, discussed the law as falling within the police power of the State, being a health regulation sustainable on account of the difference between men and women in physical structure, functions, and capacity. Quotations were made from Muller v. Oregon, 208 U. S. 412, 28 Sup. Ct. 324 (Bulletin No. 75, p. 631), and from the recent case of Ritchie & Co. v. Wayman, 244 Ill. 509, 91 N. E. 695 (Bulletin No. 89, p. 428), the judge concluding: “We think it clear that, according to the great weight of modern authority, the provisions of the law are not unconstitutional."
The question of class legislation was then taken up, the contention being that the exception as to persons engaged in canning establishments made the law invalid, as class legislation. On this point Judge Moore made a quotation from Cooley on Constitutional Limitations, page 554, in the course of which it was said that the fact that laws are of local or special operation only is not supposed to render them obnoxious in principle, and that the legislature may deem it desirable to prescribe peculiar rules for the several occupations, and to establish distinctions in the rights, obligations, duties, and capacities of citizens. In the matter of distinctions also the case of Ritchie & Co. v. Wayman was again cited in which this question was discussed at length and the law of Illinois held constitutional, and Judge Moore concluded:
If legislation which applies to one calling only, pursued by women, is not class legislation, it is difficult to see how legislation which applies to many callings pursued by women can be said to be class legislation because it does not apply to all callings pursued by her. We conclude the legislation is not unconstitutional, and that it is not class legislation.
GARNISHMENT OF WAGES-CLASS LEGISLATION-CONSTITUTIONALITY OF STATUTE -- White v. Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Co., Supreme Court of Missouri, 130 Southwestern Reporter, page 325.A statute of the State of Missouri (secs. 3447, 3448, R. S., 1899, now secs. 2427, 2428, R. S., 1909) provides that no writ of garnishment shall issue from any court in any cause where the sum demanded is $200 or less, and where the property sought to be reached is wages due the defendant in the case from any railroad corporation, until after judgment shall have been recovered by the plaintiff against the defendant debtor. It is also provided that no railroad corporation shall be required to answer in any such case.
E. C. White brought suit in a justice's court to attach the wages of one York on a promissory note for $58.40 and interest. York was an employee of the railroad company named above, and this company was summoned as garnishee. Judgment was in White's favor in the justice's court and in the circuit court of Pettis County. The railroad company appealed to the supreme court of the State and secured a reversal of the judgment of the lower court. White's contention was that the statute in question was unconstitutional as class legislation. The case turned entirely on the validity of the enactment, which was upheld by the supreme court, as appears from the following extracts from the opinion of the court, which was delivered by Judge Valliant:
The class marked out for favor in the statute is the class of railroad employees covered by its terms. Incidentally the railroad company receives the favor of freedom from the annoyance which constant calls to answer as garnishee would entail; but the persons really protected are the employees whose wages, when they are absent or have no notice of a suit, can not be attached. Section 3447 says that, when the amount sought to be recovered from the employee is $200 or less, his wages shall not be touched by garnishment until there has been a judgment for the amount against him. Of course there can be no judgment against him until he has been served with summons. The statute means that the process of garnishment should be withheld until the employee is brought into court and is allowed to make his defense, if any he has, and a personal judgment rendered against him. The next section 3448 is but a corollary to the former and is designed to secure its performance, to render more certain the accomplishment of its purpose.
In the case at bar, if the purpose of the statute in question was to create railroad companies into a class, to exempt them from the burden or from the inconvenience of answering as garnishees, no one would undertake to defend it as a reasonable classification. But who will undertake to say that the general assembly intended by this act to create railroad companies into a privileged class, to exempt them from the common burden borne by everybody else? When in the legislative history of this State has the general assembly ever manifested such partiality to railroad companies as a class, partiality in which there was no purpose but to favor the class, granting to them a special privilege without any conceivable benefit to the public ? On the other hand, when we think of the employees, their peculiar helpless condition, in the predicament contemplated by this statute, we see a very good reason for the classification. A man at home, or whose place of business is near his home, can attend the justice's court when he is sued and, either with or without an attorney, defend against an unjust suit. But if an unfair plaintiff has a small claim against a brakeman on a freight train against which claim he knows there is or may be a good defense, he may watch a time when the brakeman is gone, give constructive notice by publication, seize his wages, and thus obtain an unconscionable advantage. Even if the
publication was brought to the notice of the railroad employee, when perhaps he was 500 miles away from home and could not leave his post of duty without sacrificing his position, it is easy to conceive how he would submit to wrong rather than undertake the expense and trouble of defending the suit for the small amount involved, small perhaps in comparison to the expense and trouble, though not small in comparison to his wages. The law contemplates that a man can ordinarily be found by the sheriff or constable in the county in which he lives, and if he can not be found the law provides for constructive notice to him as to one who absconds or conceals himself to avoid the writ, and, as a general rule, that is fair. But is it fair to this class of men ? Are they to be put in the category of men absconding or hiding from the sheriff or constable? Or if the general assembly should undertake to give them as a class certain exemption from that condition, can we say that it is arbitrary classification ?
The record in this case illustrates what advantage may be taken of a railroad employee but for this statute. The defendant in this case is a resident of this State. Then why was the time to sue chosen when he was absent, and when only constructive notice, which in fact is often no notice, could be given? So far as this record shows, this man knew nothing of this suit; but, if this law will not protect him, his wages are to be gathered in by the adroit plaintiff whether he owed the debt or not. This case illustrates only one aspect of the condition to which the statute was designed to apply. It applies as well to a nonresident railroad employee as to a resident. A man living in Texas having a disputed claim against a railroad trainman who lives in the same town may send his claim to Missouri, where it is likely the defendant may never be, and institute suit by attachment, and the defendant never hear of it until his pay day comes and he finds that his wages have been appropriated. Is it possible the lawmaking power of this State can not regulate the process of the courts of the State to prevent such an abuse of the law ?
Without the statutory provision of garnishment a creditor would have no right to seize the wages of his debtor until after he obtained judgment on his debt. The statute granting the right may direct how and to what extent it may be used, and a person using the process given him by the statute has no right to complain of the restrictions or conditions imposed by the very same law that gives him the right. We do not mean to imply that a statute evidently designed to give one class of creditors the property of their debtor and withhold it from another class would not be obnoxious to the constitution, State and Federal; but we do say that in giving such process to creditors as our garnishment statutes give it is in the power of the general assembly, to make reasonable exceptions, and the creditor using the process has no right to complain of the exception.
This statute is not designed to shield a railroad employee from the payment of an honest debt, but only to protect him from the abuse that might be made of the writ of garnishment to his injury in his absence. It gives him a chance to be heard before his wages are taken, a chance he would be less likely to have, on account of the nature of his daily work, than persons engaged in other business. We hold that sections 3447 and 3448, Revised Statutes 1899, now sections 2427 and 2428, Revised Statutes 1910, are not obnoxious to any of the mandates of either the State or Federal constitution.
PAYMENT OF WAGES— WAGES AS PREFERRED CLAIMS-AssignMENT OF RIGHTS—Richeson v. National Bank of Mena, Supreme Court of Arkansas, 132 Southwestern Reporter, page 912.—A statute of Arkansas (secs. 949, 950, Kirby's Digest) makes the wages and salaries due employees of insolvent corporations preferred claims against the assets, and directs that they shall be paid before other debts. In the case in hand, such claims had been assigned to Richeson and others and they claimed priority for the accounts in their hands in view of the provisions of the statute in question. The chancery court of Polk County denied that priority attached to assigned claims, holding that the right granted by the statute was merely personal. On appeal this view of the construction of the statute was sustained, as appears from the following quotation from the opinion of the supreme court, which was delivered by Judge McCulloch:
If this statute be construed as creating a lien, there is a conflict in the authorities as to whether such statutory lien passes with an assignment of the debt; but it is clearly settled by the decisions of this court that such a lien is personal, and does not pass with an assignment of the debt. The decisions referred to relate to liens of laborers and material men and to landlords. [Cases cited.] But the language of the statute under consideration makes it very plain that the preference right is personal to the laborer or employee, and does not pass with an assignment of the debt. The statutë merely declares that in winding up an insolvent corporation the assets shall be distributed equally among the creditors “after paying the wages and salaries due laborers and employees."
PUBLIC WORK-PROTECTION OF LABORERS AND MATERIAL MENCONTRACTORS' BONDS— Title Guaranty & Trust Co. v. Crane Co., Supreme Court of the United States, 31 Supreme Court Reporter, page 140.—This case was before the Supreme Court on appeal from the circuit court of appeals for the ninth circuit to review a judgment rendered in that court in the case entitled “Title Guaranty & Trust Co. v. Puget Sound Engine Works et al.,” reported in 163 Federal Reporter, page 168. (See Bulletin No. 79, p. 956.) The case turned on the construction of an act of Congress of August 13, 1894 (28 Stat. 278; U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 2523), as amended by the act of February 24, 1905 (33 Stat. 811; U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1909, p. 948), requiring a bond from contractors on public works for the protection of persons furnishing labor or materials in the construction thereof. The work in question was a vessel which had been built for the United States and delivered to it, so that it was at the time of this trial out of the possession of the contractors. The contention had been that the law did not apply to the contract for such a chattel as the vessel in question. Other points involved