Washington D.C., Apr 19, 2023 / 13:15 pm
The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed open to expanding religious rights protections in the workplace during oral arguments late Tuesday morning, but some were hesitant about making any far-reaching changes to legal precedent.
All nine justices heard oral arguments in Groff V. DeJoy, a lawsuit brought by Gerald Groff, a mail carrier who sought a religious accommodation from the U.S. Postal Service that would have exempted him from working on Sundays. Groff, who was originally granted the accommodation and later had it rescinded, is represented by lawyers from the First Liberty Institute, a Christian legal organization in Texas.
Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers to grant certain religious accommodations to employees, current Supreme Court precedent states they do not need to grant an accommodation that would impose “undue hardship” on the employer. Groff’s lawyer, Aaron Streett, asked the court to adopt a new nationwide standard to clarify the meaning of undue hardship to ensure religious rights receive stronger protections.
Streett told the justices that lower courts across the country have interpreted “undue hardship” differently and said this case is about the question of “what’s our yardstick or what’s our metric here” and “what do we apply the undue hardship standard to?”