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 January 15, 2023

Supreme Court adds a potentially important religious rights case to its docket

The U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Washington Examiner, has just added a potentially important religious rights case to the list of cases that will be heard this session. 

The case is Groff v. DeJoy. It has to do with religious accommodations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The lawsuit comes from Gerald Groff, a former U.S. Postal Service carrier from Pennsylvania, who is an evangelical Christian. According to Newsmax, Groff refused to work on Sundays because doing so conflicted with his religious beliefs - as an evangelical Christian, he observes the Sabbath.

Groff's work attempted to provide accommodations for him by swapping shifts. But, according to Newsmax, this didn't always work and it often led to other problems.

"His absences caused resentment among others carriers who had to cover his shifts and ultimately led one to leave the Holtwood station and another to quit the Postal Service altogether, according to court papers," the outlet reports.

Groff's employer, as a result, took disciplinary measures, and, in 2019, Groff decided to resign.

Groff subsequently brought a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service, arguing that it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by not providing sufficient accommodations for his religious beliefs.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling against Groff. The court ruled that exempting Groff from having to work on Sundays led to “undue hardship” by placing a strain on his co-workers and disrupting the office’s workflow.

Now, the matter is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are going to be asked to consider to what extent an employer has to provide religious accommodations in order to comply with Title VII.

In the 1977 case Trans World Airlines Inc. v. Hardison, according to the Examiner, the Supreme Court "found employers can't be required under a federal job discrimination law to bear more than a minimal cost."

Now, the justices have an opportunity to reconsider that ruling, and they are going to get to do so with their new conservative majority.

This could lead to a significant change considering, as Newsmax points out, that the court “has taken an expansive view of religious liberties . . . in recent years.”

A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by the summer.

Kelly Shackelford, the president and CEO of First Liberty – the group that is representing Groff, has put out a statement, saying:

It is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of religion. It’s time for the Supreme Court to reconsider a decades-old case that favors corporations and the government over the religious rights of employees.

Written By:
Robert Ayers

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