Supreme Court grants review in case regarding Sabbath observer
January 24, 2023

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has granted review in Groff v. DeJoy as requested by CJV, a case that may bring relief to sincere religious practitioners seeking accommodations in the workplace.

In an Amicus Curiae from the Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) joined by CJV last September, attorney Nathan Lewin argued that SCOTUS should hear the case and provide a more meaningful accommodation of religious practices than has been the case since the 1977 decision in Trans World Airlines v. Hardison. In that decision, the Court said that an employer only needed to provide a “de minimus” accommodation for an employee’s religious practices; anything more was deemed an “undue burden” which the employer was not obligated to accommodate.

Gerald Groff, an evangelical Christian, was a Pennsylvania mailman for years before Amazon contracted with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to deliver packages on Sundays. Because he did not want to work on his Sabbath, Groff tried to make arrangements with the USPS, including working multiple make-up shifts at other times during the week, or even by switching postal offices. The Postal Service refused to accommodate him and cited him for disciplinary actions due to his failure to work on Sunday. Mr. Groff resigned rather than being terminated.

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Following his resignation, Mr. Groff sued the USPS for failing to accommodate his sincerely-held religious beliefs. Both the district court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him, because, they decided, his absence caused an “undue burden” to the USPS. The courts’ ruling was based on the Hardison decision.

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