Press Release

Supreme Court to decide if employers can discount the Sabbath Justices to decide scope of religious accommodations at work

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court heard arguments today in the case of Gerald Groff, a former U.S. Postal Service postal carrier who was denied a religious accommodation to observe his Sunday Sabbath. In Groff v. DeJoy, Becket filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Groff, asking the Court to revisit Trans World Airlines v. Hardison and restore the protections Congress created for religious employees.  

In Hardison, the Supreme Court ruled that employers were under no obligation to provide religious accommodations to employees if those accommodations resulted in even a minor cost to the employer. The Hardison standard is particularly problematic for Americans who hold to minority faiths or have unpopular beliefs, placing additional hardships on marginalized communities. This includes the ability of Jewish employees to wear yarmulkes in the workplace or Muslim employees to pray during the workday.

“For almost 50 years, very large employers have been given a get-out-of-jail-free card any time they wanted to kick their religious employees to the curb for observing a holy day or taking time to pray,” said Mark Rienzi, president and CEO of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “That’s all because one bad Supreme Court decision has allowed businesses to exile the faithful to the margins of society.”  

Becket has represented multiple religious workers who have been left to the whims of billion-dollar businesses that either did not understand or care about their religious convictions. Becket’s brief argues that employers have an obligation to offer accommodation and the Court should look to other areas of civil rights law – such as protections for employees with disabilities – to protect religious employees.  

“The public is often skeptical of how Supreme Court decisions affect their real lives, but there should be no doubt here: many Americans have been denied their rights because the Supreme Court got it wrong almost five decades ago,” said Rienzi. “In Groff’s case, the Court can get the law right once and for all. Fixing this mistake will help protect millions of hard-working religious Americans from having to choose between their job and their faith.”

Groff is represented by Aaron Streett of Baker Botts L.L.P. and First Liberty Institute. A decision is expected by Summer 2023. 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.Interviews can be arranged in English, Mandarin, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.