U S v. POST(1893)
Charles King, George A. King, and William B. King, for appellee.
Mr Justice BLATCHFORD delivered the opinion of the court.
This is a suit brought in the court of claims by Aaron S. Post against the United States, by an original petition filed March 26, 1891. A traverse of the petition was filed May 23, 1891, and an amended petition January 11, 1892. In the latter it is set forth that the claimant was, from May 24, 1888, to December 31, 1889, a letter carrier in the post office at the city of Salt Lake City, in the territory of Utah, of the class entitled to a salary of $850 a year; that during that period he was, from time to time, actually and necessarily employed, in excess of eight hours a day, in the performance of the duties assigned to him as such carrier, aggregating an excess of a specified number of hours; that by the act of congress of May 24, 1888, c. 308, (25 St. p. 157,) entitled 'An act to limit the hours that letter carriers in cities shall be employed per day,' he became entitled to extra pay for all the time during which he was so employed in excess of eight hours a day; and that he had applied to the post-office department for payment of the same, and it had not been paid; and he claimed judgment for a specified amount and costs. A traverse of the amended petition was filed February 21, 1892. Eight other cases were before the court of claims, and tried at the same time, with [148 U.S. 124, 126] petitions in the same form, and claiming various amounts; the claimants serving for various periods, and their classes and salaries being various.
The court of claims found that Post was a letter carrier at the post office at Salt Lake City, between May 24, 1888, and December 21, 1889, of the second class, at a salary of $850 a year. The other findings were as follows:
On such findings of fact, the court found, as a conclusion of law, that Post was entitled to recover for 1,725 1-2 hours of extra work, amounting, at the rate of 29.1 cents per hour, to $502.12. [148 U.S. 124, 130] The opinion of the court in the nine cases, including that of Post, is found in 27 Ct. Cl. 244. A judgment was entered in favor of Post on March 10, 1892, for $502.12, from which judgment the United States appealed to this court.
The act of May 24, 1888, reads as follows: 'That hereafter eight hours shall constitute a day's work for letter carriers in cities or postal districts connected therewith, for which they shall receive the same pay as is now paid for a day's work of a greater number of hours. If any letter carrier is employed a greater number of hours per day than eight, he shall be paid extra for the same in proportion to the salary now fixed by law.'
The contention of the United States is that the statute has reference only to letter carrier service, and that the claimant, to bring himself within its provisions, must show, not only that he has performed more than eight hours of service in a day, but also that such eight hours of service related exclusively tc the free distribution and collection of mail matter, and that the extra service for which he claims compensation was of the same character.
In this connection reference is made to sections 1764 and 1765 of the Revised Statutes Section 1764 provides as follows: 'No allowance or compensation shall be made to any officer or clerk by reason of the discharge of duties which belong to any other officer or clerk in the same or any other department; and no allowance or compensation shall be made for any extra services, whatever, which any officer or clerk may be required to perform, unless expressly authorized by law.' Section 1765 provides as follows: 'No officer in any branch of the public service, or any other person whose salary, pay, or emoluments are fixed by law or regulation, shall receive any additional pay, extra allowance, or compensation, in any form whatever, for the disbursement of public money, or for any other service or duty whatever, unless the same is authorized by law, and the appropriation therefor explicitly states that it is for such additional pay, extra allowance, or compensation.'
Referring to section 647 of the Postal Laws and Regulations of [148 U.S. 124, 131] 1887, which were in force during the time embraced within the claim in question, under the head of 'Free-Delivery Service,' (and which section 647 is set forth in finding 5 of the court of claims,) under the subtitle 'General Duties of Carriers,' it providing as follows: 'Carriers shall be employed in the delivery and collection of mail matter, and, during the intervals between their trips, may be employed in the post office in such manner as the postmaster may direct, but not as clerks,'-it is contended for the United States that the duties of letter carriers are a necessary incident to the creation of the free-delivery service; that the statute necessarily defines their services to be a distribution and collection of mail, and such other duties as are necessarily incident thereto, such as receiving the mail allotted to them by clerks in the post office, arranging it for distribution, and making a proper disposition of it, when not delivered, upon their return to the post office; and that any other service which a carrier may perform is not contemplated by the act of May 24, 1888, and is an extra service, within the meaning of sections 1764 and 1765 of the Revised Statutes, payment for which is not authorized by law.
For the claimant it is contended that, under section 647 of the regulations of the department, as set forth in finding 5 of the court of claims, the extra service for which the claim is made was an employment of the letter carrier, not only in the delivery and collection of mail matter, but also in the post office, during the intervals between his trips, in such manner as the postmaster directed, but not as a clerk.
It is not stated in the findings that the claimant was so employed as a clerk, nor does it appear what the duties of a clerk in the post office in question were, but merely that, during the time covered by the claim, there were nine carriers and three clerks employed in that post office. It is also found, by finding 4, that the carriers remonstrated against the performance of work not connected with their duties as carriers, but that the postmaster held that, under the regulations, he could use them in that service, and therefore required them to perform it. This, in view of the provision of section 647 of the [148 U.S. 124, 132] regulations, is substantially a finding that they were not employed as clerks.
The whole contention on the part of the United States amounts to this: That the court of claims has substantially found that none of the extra work for which compensation is claimed was incident to the general duties of the claimant as a letter carrier, and that the statute in regard to extra service relates exclusively to that which is connected with the general duties of the claimant as a letter carrier, and not to compensation for extra service, when he is not employed for eight hours a day in the performance of his general duties as a letter carrier.
The statute of 1888 provides that eight hours shall constitute a day's work 'for letter carriers' in cities or postal districts connected therewith. It does not state what duties the letter carriers shall perform during such day's work, but merely that they shall receive for such day's work of eight hours the same pay that was then paid for a day's work of a greater number of hours. It further provides that, if a letter carrier is employed a greater number of hours per day than eight, he shall be paid extra for such greater number of hours in proportion to the salary fixed by law for his compensation. This extra pay is given to him by the statute, distinctly, for his being employed a greater number of hours per day than eight. The statute does not say how he must be employed, or of what such employment is to consist. It is necessary only that he should be a letter carrier, and be lawfully employed in work that is not inconsistent with his general business under his employment as a letter carrier. The employment authorized by section 647 of the regulations is defined to be an employment in the post office in such manner as the postmaster may direct, during the intervals between the carrier's trips in delivering and collecting mail matter, provided that he be not employed in the post office as a clerk therein.
The court of claims, in its opinion, arrived at the following conclusions: (1) That the letter carriers were entitled to recover, not only for all work done by them on the street, in delivering and collecting mail matter, but also for all work [148 U.S. 124, 133] done in the post office, in receiving and arranging the letters of their routes; (2) that as to the distribution of mail matter for the boxes and general delivery, as found in finding 3, during the times intervening between one trip and another in the same day, the regulations of the department set forth in finding 5 could properly be construed as permitting such services; and (3) that as to the services of the same character rendered after the termination of the last trip for the day of the carrier in delivering and collecting mail matter, they were services fairly within the power of the postmaster to prescribe.
We are of opinion that, in respect of all such services, the letter carrier, if employed therein a greater number of hours than eight per day, was entitled to be paid extra. To hold otherwise would be to say that the carrier was employed contrary to the regulations of the department, when it clearly appears that he was employed in accordance with such regulations. The statute was manifestly one for the benefit of the carriers, and it does not lie in the mouth of the government to contend that the employment in question was not extra service, and to be paid for as such, when it appears that the United States, in accordance with the regulations of the post-office department, actually employed the letter carriers the extra number of hours per day, and it is not found that they were so employed as clerks. The postmaster was the agent of the United States to direct the employment, and, if the letter carriers had not obeyed the orders of the postmaster, they could have been dismissed. They did not lose their legal rights under the statute by obeying such orders.
Mr. Justice JACKSON took no part in the decision of this case.