The Supreme Court made it easier for employees to obtain religious accommodations with its unanimous decision in Groff v. DeJoy, a case about a postal worker, Gerold Groff, an evangelical Christian who believes that Sundays should be reserved for rest and worship.
When the post office began delivering Amazon packages on Sundays, Groff’s supervisor granted him an accommodation to observe Sunday Sabbath. However, a few years later, the post office withdrew the accommodation and scheduled him on Sundays.
Groff was disciplined by the post office for refusing to work on Sundays, and ultimately resigned from his job in 2019.
Federal law prevents employers from discriminating against employees for practicing their religion unless their employer can prove that the employee's religious practice cannot “reasonably” be accommodated without “undue hardship.”
The Supreme Court ruled that Title VII requires an employer that denies a religious accommodation to show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.
The Supreme Court ruled that a trivial burden is not the kind of “undue hardship” that could justify an employer’s failure to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs.
The ruling could potentially give religious employees more input over their schedules (e.g., holidays, prayer breaks) and dress codes.
“This is a landmark victory, not only for Gerald, but for every American. No American should be forced to choose between their faith and their job,” said Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel for First Liberty, which represented Groff in the case. “The Court’s decision today restores religious freedom to every American in the workplace. This decision will positively help millions and millions of Americans – those who work now and their children and grandchildren.”
In response to the decision, Gerald Groff said, “I am grateful to have had my case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and that they have decided to uphold religious liberty. 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.”