The Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous ruling affirming protections for workers seeking religious accommodations, basing the judgment on the case of a Christian mailman who sought to avoid working on Sundays. The justices clarified that employees who request accommodations, such as observing the Sabbath, should receive them unless employers can demonstrate that granting the accommodation would result in significant financial burdens for the business. The case of Groff vs. DeJoy also involved the interpretation of “undue hardship” on employers. A prior Supreme Court ruling in 1977 (Hardison) stated that employers are not required to provide religious accommodations if it imposes even minimal burdens on the business.
CBN News reports:
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld protections for workers who ask for religious accommodations, basing its ruling on the case of a Christian mailman who didn’t want to work Sundays.
In a unanimous decision, the justices made clear that workers who ask for accommodations, such as taking the Sabbath off, should get them unless their employers show that doing so would result in “substantial increased costs” to the business.
Part of the case in Groff vs. DeJoy is the interpretation of an “undue hardship” on an employer. A 1977 Supreme Court ruling known as Hardison established that employers don’t have to meet religious accommodations if there is even a minimal burden on the business.
But the high court made clear that businesses must cite more than minor costs — so-called “de minimis” costs — to reject requests for religious accommodations at work. Unlike most cases before the court, both sides in the case had agreed businesses needed to show more. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion for the court that while some lower courts have understood Hardison the way the Biden administration suggested, other courts incorrectly latched on to the “de minimis” language “as the governing standard.”
“In this case, both parties agree that the ‘de minimis’ test is not right… We think it is enough to say that an employer must show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business,” Alito wrote.
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