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Mailman suing USPS for religious discrimination

A former mail carrier says he can't work Sunday because it's 'the Lord's day,' but the Postal Service says it puts undue stress on other employees.
Mailman suing USPS for religious discrimination
Posted at 7:05 PM, Apr 18, 2023

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could define religious liberty fights for years to come. 

Gerald Groff, a former postal worker, sued the U.S. Postal Service for religious discrimination after resigning in 2019. He claimed the Postal Service did not accommodate his request to not work on Sunday due to his Christian faith. 

"It's a day we set aside to honor God, to worship God, to come together as believers, not only in church, but after church, in fellowship around the table and spending time together," he said. 

A lower court, however, ruled in the Postal Service's favor, citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says businesses must accommodate employee's faith-based requests unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the business. 

In 1977, the Court ruled in TWA v. Hardison that an "undue hardship" could mean "more than a de minimus cost." Groff argues that is an unfairly low benchmark for employers to meet. 

The Postal Service says Groff's requests for time off on Sundays meant more work for his colleagues and fostered tension at the post office. 

At the Court Tuesday, the conservative-majority bench seemed to side with Groff. Justice Neil Gorsuch questioned the application of the language in the TWA v. Hardison ruling. 

"It's been a serious misunderstanding," he said. "Not all courts, but some courts, have taken this 'de minimus' language and run with it and say anything more than a trifling will get the employer out of any concerns here. And that's wrong, and we all agree that's wrong. Why can't we just say that and be done with it?" 

While the Court seemed to favor Groff's argument, we aren't likely to know the outcome of the case until the Court releases a majority of its opinions in June.


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