In 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad merged into the Penn Central Transportation Corporation. The merger was meant to help two fledgling companies, but the new company only lasted 30 months before filing for bankruptcy. The merger also caused many workers to lose their jobs and their seniority. There were more than thirty workers who filed suit, arguing they were protected by a deal that was supposed to carry through the merger. They sought damages in excess of $500,000. The lawsuit began over four decades ago after the merger, with delays coming from both sides appealing unfavorable decisions. After several courts, judges, and panels heard the case, a federal appeals court recently upheld a $14.2 million award for two retired workers and thirty estates of deceased workers who were properly owed back pay for their work.
Workers such as George Norris were laid off soon after the merger. He waited by the phone hoping to get a call to come back to work, and he did work when called for rare overnight shifts. He continued this pattern of work until he retired, at less than his normal pay. He lost over $50,000 in wages and benefits due to his early termination. His estate was awarded $1.3 million in the lawsuit. Twenty-nine other estates also received similar benefits, although the long overdue back pay should have been received years ago.
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