The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a former U.S. Postal Service mail carrier who sued after he was denied accommodations to avoid work on his religious day of rest.
In their ruling, which was written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court noted 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 ruling itself is not an outright as they did not toss out the 1977 precedent that made it easier for some companies to deny such requests, but instead directed the lower courts to interpret it in a more favorable way for employees, writing that, moving forward, courts “should resolve whether a hardship would be substantial in the context of an employer’s business in the commonsense manner that it would use in applying any such test.”
The former postal carrier, Gerald Groff, who worked as an auxiliary mailman in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area from 2012 to 2019, before he resigned, 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.
Groff, who lost two lower court decisions, is now requesting of the court to make it easier for employees to bring religious claims under Title VII of the Civil Right Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination of various forms, including based on religion.
The two previous court decisions, including one by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sided with the Postal Service, ruling that accommodating Groff’s request would result in an “undue hardship” under the standard set in the Hardison case.
In the 1977 Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison case, the court determined that employers could deny a reasonable accommodation request made by an employee under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and based on their sincerely held religious beliefs if the accommodation results in an “undue hardship” on the employer.
This is a developing story and will be updated