U.S. Supreme Court puts a key religious rights case on the docket

According to the Washington Examiner, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have just placed a potentially important religious rights case on the list of cases to be heard this session. 

Per the outlet: “The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to consider eight new cases, including an appeal on whether employers need to offer better accommodations for religious workers.”

The case is Groff v. DeJoy.

Background

According to Newsmax, the case comes from Gerald Groff, a former U.S. Postal carrier from Pennsylvania who was reprimanded for refusing to work on Sundays because it conflicted with his religious beliefs.

Groff is an evangelical Christian, and, as such, observes the Sabbath on Sundays.

Newsmax reports that Groff repeatedly failed to show up for work on Sundays – 24 times – which led to disciplinary action and, eventually, his resignation.

Per the outlet:

Postal officials sought to accommodate Groff by attempting to facilitate Sunday shift swaps, but the effort was not always successful. 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. Groff received several disciplinary letters for his attendance and resigned in 2019.

The lawsuit

Groff, in his lawsuit, claimed that the U.S. Postal Service violated federal anti-discrimination law – specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – by not providing him with sufficient accommodation for his religious beliefs.

Accordingly, the question at issue here is to what extent employers must provide religious accommodation for their employees in order to comply with Title VII.

Groff says that the postal office didn’t do enough. But, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, dismissing his lawsuit.

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 by disrupting the office’s workflow.

To SCOTUS it goes

Now, the justices of the Supreme Court will consider the case. What makes this interesting, as Newsmax points out, is that the court “has taken an expansive view of religious liberties . . . in recent years.”

We’ll see if this trend continues in this case. A decision would be expected by the summer.

Kelly Shackelford, the president and CEO of First Liberty – the group that is representing Groff – framed the case this way:

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.