Supreme Court rules employers must be more accommodating of religious observance

(WASHINGTON) — A unanimous Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a former U.S. Postal Service letter carrier from Pennsylvania who didn’t want to work on Sundays in order to observe the Sabbath and was disciplined for skipping shifts.

The decision by Justice Samuel Alito gives Gerald Groff, the carrier, a chance to potentially get his job back and more broadly raises the bar for when employers can legally refuse to accommodate the religious practice of their employees.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to accommodate the employee unless it would pose an “undue hardship.”

The Supreme Court 46 years ago interpreted that to mean anything more than a “de minimis” cost on the business — a low bar.

In Thursday’s ruling, Alito and the court clarified and tightened that standard, saying federal law requires employers to show more deference to employees unless there is a “substantial burden” on the business.

The case will have an impact on workplaces across America and the ability of employees to more easily seek religious accommodations from their employers.

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