The US Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would hear an employment discrimination claim by an evangelical former postal employee who argues he should not 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 the Sabbath. He claimed that managers had been willing to accommodate his religious needs from when he began work in 2012, finding other workers to cover Sunday shifts when they were introduced in 2015.
After July 2018, however, he was penalized for not showing up to work on Sunday, and other employees reportedly began to resent having to cover 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 had provided a “reasonable” accommodation and that anything further would have caused “undue hardship” to his co-workers. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in its ruling last year.
However, Groff maintains that the definition of “undue hardship” used by the courts favors employers’ convenience over employees’ religious needs. The Supreme Court had hinted in 2020 in another religious discrimination case that they might consider reassessing what “undue hardship” entails.
In recent years, a conservative-leaning US Supreme Court has repeatedly decided in favor of religious-rights plaintiffs, including a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding and two Christian families who challenged a state tuition-assistance program over its exclusion of religious private schools. A 2020 ruling strengthened legal protections for religious employers against job discrimination lawsuits.