Supreme Court considers ‘work on Sunday’ case


A postal worker who says working on the Sabbath violates his religious beliefs filed the discrimination claim

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear an employment discrimination claim from an evangelical former postal worker who claims he shouldn’t be required to work on Sunday because of his religious beliefs.

Gerald Groff sued the US Postal Service after his managers stopped honoring his requests not to be assigned work shifts on what he considers to be the Sabbath. He claimed that managers had been willing to accommodate his religious needs since he started work in 2012, and found other workers to cover Sunday services when they were introduced in 2015.

However, after July 2018, he was penalized for not showing up for work on Sundays, and other employees reportedly began to resent him having to take over his shifts. Expecting to be fired, Groff resigned the following year and sued his former employer for religious discrimination.

A federal judge initially ruled against his claim, finding the USPS a “reasonable”accommodation and all that would have caused further”unnecessary deprivationto his colleagues. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with its ruling last year.

However, Groff argues that the definition of “unnecessary deprivationused by the courts favors the convenience of employers over the religious needs of employees. The Supreme Court had hinted in another religious discrimination case in 2020 that they might consider reassessing what “unnecessary deprivation” means.

In recent years, a conservative-minded U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled in favor of religious rights plaintiffs, including a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding and two Christian families running a state education program. challenge the exclusion of religious private schools. A 2020 ruling strengthened legal protections for religious employers against workplace discrimination lawsuits.

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