Saturday, July 8, 2023

ICYMI: Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Employee’s Right to Religious Accommodation; Supreme Court Rules for Christian Mail Carrier Who Refused to Work Sundays

Photo illustration: PeopleImages/Getty Images
Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Employee’s Right to Religious Accommodation:
In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the right of an employee to be granted a religious accommodation by his employer unless doing so would substantially affect the employer’s business.
In Groff v. DeJoy, the high court reiterated that employees must not be forced to choose between their faith and their job, and finally clarified long-standing precedent that had been largely misunderstood and used to deny religious accommodations to employees for years.
The petitioner in the case, Gerald Groff, had asked the justices to determine whether his employer, the U.S. Postal Service, was required to provide a religious accommodation excusing him from work so that he could observe the Sabbath on Sundays.
Groff argued that he must, as Exodus 20:8 puts it, “[r]emember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
When the Postal Service began delivering packages Sundays for Amazon, it initially accommodated Groff by exempting him from deliveries that day so that he could observe the Sabbath.
But a few years later, the Postal Service withdrew Groff’s religious accommodation and replaced it with an arrangement that regularly asked Groff to violate his conscience by working every Sunday when he could not find a replacement. Groff sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
When a Pennsylvania federal trial court upheld the Postal Service’s decision not to accommodate Groff, he appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Although the 3rd Circuit agreed with Groff that the Postal Service had failed to provide him with a reasonable accommodation, it held that the Postal Service wasn’t required to do so because the accommodation would have caused “undue hardship” to the employer. --->READ MORE HERE
Carolyn Kaster / AP file
Supreme Court rules for Christian mail carrier who refused to work Sundays:
The case concerns an evangelical Christian who claimed the U.S. Postal Service did not do enough to accommodate his request not to work on Sundays.
The Supreme Court made it easier Thursday for employees to seek religious accommodations in a case involving a lawsuit brought by an evangelical Christian mail carrier who asked not to work on Sundays.
The case involves a claim brought by a Pennsylvania man, Gerald Groff, who says the U.S. Postal Service could have granted his request that he be spared Sunday shifts based on his religious belief that it is a day of worship and rest.
"I hope this decision allows others to be able to maintain their convictions without living in fear of losing their jobs because of what they believe," Groff said in a statement Thursday.
His case will now return to lower courts for further litigation over whether he prevails under the new standard.
In a statement, Postal Service spokeswoman Felicia Lott called the ruling "fully consistent with the standard we apply when seeking to accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs, observances and practices of our employees."
As a result, she added, the Postal Service expects to ultimately win the case.
Groff had argued that it was too difficult for employees to bring religious claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on various fronts, including religion. --->READ MORE HERE
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