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45 U.S. Code § 797b - Preferential hiring

(a) General

Any employee who is deprived of employment shall have the first right of hire by any other railroad for a vacancy for which he is qualified in a class or craft (or in the case of a non-agreement employee, for a non-agreement vacancy) in which such employee was employed by the Corporation or a predecessor carrier for not less than one year, except where such a vacancy is covered by (1) an affirmative action plan, or a hiring plan designed to eliminate discrimination, that is required by Federal or State statute, regulation, or Executive order, or by the order of a Federal court or agency, or (2) a permissible voluntary affirmative action plan. For purposes of this section, a railroad shall not be considered to be hiring new employees when it recalls any of its own furloughed employees.

(b) Status

The first right of hire afforded to employees under this section shall be coequal to the first right of hire afforded under sections 907 and 1004 of this title.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Exemption of National Railroad Passenger Corporation in Hiring Qualified Train and Engine Employees

Pub. L. 99–272, title IV, § 4011(c), Apr. 7, 1986, 100 Stat. 109, provided that:

“The provisions of section 703 of the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 (45 U.S.C. 797b), section 8 of the Milwaukee Railroad Restructuring Act (45 U.S.C. 907), and section 105 of the Rock Island Railroad Transition and Employee Assistance Act (45 U.S.C. 1004) shall not apply to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation in the hiring of qualified train and engine employees who hold seniority rights to work in intercity rail passenger service in connection with the assumption by such Corporation of functions previously performed under contract by other carriers.”