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U.S. Supreme Court

Graham v. Brotherhood of Firemen, 338 U.S. 232 (1949)

Graham v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen

No. 16

Argued October 10, 1949

Decided November 7, 1949

338 U.S. 232


Petitioners, Negro locomotive firemen, brought suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia against an unincorporated labor organization which, under the Railway Labor Act, was the exclusive bargaining representative of the craft or class of railway employees to which they belonged. They sought injunctive and other relief against the enforcement of agreements between the labor organization and various railroads which, in matters of job assignments and promotions, discriminated against them because of their race. The District Court denied a motion to dismiss and granted a preliminary injunction. Holding that venue was improperly laid in the District of Columbia, the Court of Appeals reversed and ordered the case transferred to another district.


1. The ruling of the District Court that the service of process on the labor organization was valid, which ruling was undisturbed and impliedly approved by the Court of Appeals, is accepted here. P. 338 U. S. 235.

2. The venue statute applicable to the courts of the District of Columbia, D.C.Code § 11-308, which permits an action to be maintained if the defendant shall be "found" within the District, was available to the petitioners in this case, and the general venue statute was not exclusive. Pp. 338 U. S. 235-237.

(a) A party asserting a right under the Constitution or federal laws may invoke either the general venue statutes or the special District of Columbia statutes, and the courts of the District may exercise their authority in cases committed to them by either. P. 338 U. S. 237.

3. The District Court had jurisdiction to enforce by injunction petitioners' rights to nondiscriminatory representation by their statutory representative. Pp. 338 U. S. 237-240.

(a) The jurisdiction of the District Court to grant relief by injunction in this case is not impaired by the Norris-LaGuardia Act. Virginian R. Co. v. System Federation, 300 U. S. 515. Pp. 338 U. S. 237-238, 338 U. S. 240. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 338 U. S. 233

(b) The Railway Labor Act imposes upon an exclusive bargaining representative the duty to represent all members of the craft without racial discrimination, and federal courts, at the suit of a racial minority of the craft, will enforce that duty. Steele v. L. & N. R. Co., 323 U. S. 192; Tunstall v. Brotherhood of Firemen, 323 U. S. 210. Pp. 338 U. S. 238-240.

84 U.S.App.D.C. 67, 175 F.2d 802, reversed.

Petitioners sued for injunctive and other relief against a labor organization and others. The District Court denied a motion to dismiss, and granted a preliminary injunction. The labor organization alone appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding venue improperly laid in the District of Columbia. 84 U.S.App.D.C. 67, 175 F.2d 802. This Court granted certiorari. 337 U.S. 954. Reversed and remanded, p. 338 U. S. 240.

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