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Christian mail man fired for refusing to work on Sundays gets favorable Supreme Court ruling

Mail carrier Gerald Groff won a US Supreme Court ruling in his case against the United States Postal Service for not letting him have Sundays off from work to observe the Sabbath. (photo via REUTERS)

In a unanimous 9-0 vote, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday June 29, 2023 that petitioner Gerald Groff, an Evangelical Christian mail man, must have his lawsuit revived for religious accommodation to not work on Sundays.

The landmark case of Groff v. DeJoy served as a test for just how much a business has to do in order to accommodate their employees' religious values without the company suffering "undue hardship."

Groff's side argued that the SCOTUS should make it easier to bring claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which forbids employer discrimination based on religion and other matters.

“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,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion.

“An employer who fails to provide an accommodation has a defense only if the hardship is ‘undue,’ and a hardship that is attributable to employee animosity to a particular religion, to religion in general, or to the very notion of accommodating religious practice cannot be considered ‘undue.’”

The SCOTUS left the door open wide enough that the USPS might still prevail in court, though. The justices said they were leaving it to the lower court to revisit the case under the clarified standard.

Still, employers must now grant religious accommodation requests unless they can prove it’s a sententious constraint on the business. Before Groff's lawsuit, companies only had to show a minimal impingement.

Groff believes that Sundays should be devoted to worship and rest.

In 2012, he started working for the United States Postal Service in Pennsylvania. His job then did not generally call for Sunday work. But the situation changed after the USPS began delivering on Sundays for Amazon.

Groff then transferred to a USPS station that did not make Sunday deliveries. But his new job also began delivering for Amazon on Sundays.

The USPS at first assigned Sunday deliveries to other workers. But eventually he was subjected to disciplinary measures, because he refused to work on Sundays. So he resigned.

Groff sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, asserting that the USPS could have accommodated his Sunday Sabbath practice “without undue hardship on the conduct of [USPS's] business.”

The District Court granted summary judgment to the USPS. And, they believe they will win again in the next round.

"We agree with the Supreme Court's clarification, which accepts the arguments we made before the Court, and which is fully consistent with the standard we apply when seeking to accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs, observances, and practices of our employees," USPS spokesperson Felicia Lott said.

"For those reasons, and because we believe the lower court will conclude that providing the requested accommodation here would impose a substantial burden on the Postal Service, we are confident that the Postal Service will again prevail when the case is remanded."

Groff v. DeJoy is obviously already a win for Christians and other religious workers. It is also the first of three landmark cases decided in favor of Christian-based values over the span of two days last week.

On Friday, the SCOTUS awarded Colorado graphics designer Lorie Smith the right not to create wedding websites for same sex couples. On the same day, a tribunal in the United Kingdom awarded Maya Forstarter a monetary judgment after she lost her job at a globalist organization due to social media posts criticizing transgenders.

Thanks to Groff's case, going forward, employers must give more leeway to Christians and other religious workers.



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