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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Supreme Court sides with USPS worker who didn’t want to work Sundays

Jun 29, 2023

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Ray Bogan

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The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of a Postal Service worker who did not want to work on Sundays to observe the Sabbath. The justices described Groff v. DeJoy as a clarifying decision and outlined what constitutes an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

The 1964 law requires employers to accommodate the religious practice of their employees unless doing so would impose an “undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the opinion, “We think it is enough to say that an employer must show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.”

The court even described specific scenarios.

Alito wrote, “Faced with an accommodation request like Groff’s, it would not be enough for an employer to conclude that forcing other employees to work overtime would constitute an undue hardship. Consideration of other options, such as voluntary shift swapping, would also be necessary.” 

For background

Gerald Groff started working at the Postal Service because he wouldn’t have to work on Sundays and could go to church. But his schedule changed after the USPS signed a deal with Amazon. Even after multiple attempts to accommodate him, he was still required to work Sundays, so he sued. 

Before this decision, courts used what was called the “de minimis” cost standard to determine if an employer had to make a religious accommodation for an employee. But in this decision, all nine justices said that the law states undue hardship – which means the employer’s burden must rise to an excessive or unjustifiable level, not that it would simply impose an additional cost.

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The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of a postal service worker who did not want to work on Sundays to observe the sabbath. In what the court described as a clarifying decision, the justices outlined what constitutes an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

 

That 1964 law requires employers to accommodate the religious practice of their employees unless doing so would impose a “undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.”

 

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the opinion: “We think it is enough to say that an employer must show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.”

 

The court even wrote about specific scenarios. Alito wrote: “Faced with an accommodation request like Groff’s, it would not be enough for an employer to conclude that forcing other employees to work overtime would constitute an undue hardship. Consideration of other options, such as voluntary shift swapping, would also be necessary.” 

 

For background: Gerald Groff started working at the postal service because he wouldn’t have to work on sundays and could go to church. But after the USPS signed a deal with amazon, his schedule changed, and even after multiple attempts to accommodate him, he was still required to work Sundays. So he sued. 

 

Before this decision, courts used what was called the “de minimis cost standard” to determine if an employer had to make a religious accommodation for an employee. But all nine justices said here that the law says undue hardship – which means the employer’s burden must rise to an excessive or unjustifiable level, not that it would simply impose an additional cost. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.