Supreme Court Raises Standard on Religious Accommodation Cases

June 29, 2023

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On Thursday June 28th,  the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Groff v. DeJoy, a case brought by an Evangelical Christian rural letter carrier who sued the USPS, claiming his legal rights to reasonable accommodation on religious grounds were denied under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The Supreme Court overruled a lower court judgment against Mr. Groff and clarified the “undue hardship” standard found in Title VII. The decision finds that an employer must show  accommodating an employee’s religious practices would result in “substantial increased costs” before denying a request, increasing the standard of “de minimis” costs suggested in a previous Supreme Court decision, Trans World Airlines v. Hardison.

The Court did not rule on the specifics of Groff’s case, and instead remanded it to the lower courts to consider with the clarified standard.

“We are pleased that today’s decision keeps in place Hardison’s recognition that complying with union seniority systems in accommodating religious practices is fair to workers and employers,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “We’ll continue to follow this case as it returns to the lower courts to  determine the impact of today’s ruling on postal workers. Make no mistake, we’ll keep up the fight to protect our members’ rights, including the right to reasonable religious accommodations and the right to the benefits of hard-fought union values like seniority, bidding, scheduling, and career jobs.”


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