Heritage Expert: Supreme Court Affirms Workers’ Right to Religious Accommodation

Heritage Expert: Supreme Court Affirms Workers’ Right to Religious Accommodation

Jun 29, 2023 2 min read

WASHINGTON—In Groff v. DeJoy, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the U.S. Postal Service was required to accommodate the request of its employee Gerald Groff to observe a Sunday sabbath because it had not proved that doing so would cause it “undue hardship.”  

In today’s ruling, the Supreme Court addressed the contours of Trans World Airlines v. Hardison, a 1977 case that for decades was interpreted to mean that a “de minimis”—minor or negligible—cost to the employer was sufficient to prevent an employer from having to meet the religious accommodation requests of their employees.  

Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Sarah Parshall Perry released the following statement on the ruling:  

“The Supreme Court reminded employers that religious employees must not be forced to choose between their employment and their convictions. While the language of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is clear—that the faith-based requests of religious employees must be honored unless the burden on an employer would be too great to bear—the plain text of that statute was long ignored. 

 

“After the Trans World Airlines v. Hardison decision, courts for too long ruled that an employer was under no obligation to accommodate a religious employee’s on-the-job requests if the impact on the operations of that employer was even trivial—a standard unsupported by the text of Title VII itself.  

 

“But the Supreme Court has now clarified that ‘more than a de minimis cost,’ as that phrase is commonly used, does not suffice to meet the plain language of Title VII’s ‘undue hardship’ standard for employee religious accommodation requests, and stressed that a religious accommodation must be made to an employee unless the employer can demonstrate that it would result in ‘substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.’ 

 

“Thanks to the court’s unanimous decision, the scales of justice have now been level-set. Gerald Groff—and millions of American workers just like him—can be confident that their religious beliefs and practices must be accommodated by their employers to every extent possible.” 

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