Last week, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Groff v. DeJoy, which deals with the issue of workplace religious freedom.
Gerald Groff asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter after losing a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service in the lower courts. The postal worker had sued the U.S. Postal Service in response for being fired when he refused to violate his religious beliefs by having to work on Sundays.
The Birmingham-based Alabama Center for Law and Liberty (ACLL) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Groff’s petition in August.
“This case is significant because Groff is asking the Supreme Court to overrule the 1977 decision of Trans World Airlines v. Hardison, which significantly weakened protection for religious freedom in the workplace,” said ACLL President Matt Clark. “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that employers grant their employees religious accommodations unless doing so would create an ‘undue hardship’ on the employer. In Hardison, the Court held that ‘undue hardship’ meant anything more than a ‘de minimis burden.’
“While anyone who speaks English would take ‘undue hardship’ to mean some kind of substantial burden, Hardison, unfortunately, went the other way.”
Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Samuel Alito have recently argued that Hardison,should be revisited but have not been presented with a good case to reconsider it. Clark believes it’s time for that precedent to be overturned.
“If it were not for Hardison, then many people across the country who got fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds would probably still have jobs.” he said. “Many of those cases are still pending and will still be alive when the Court makes a decision in Groff, which will probably happen in June.
“Perhaps Groff will be the vehicle that finally allows these people to receive justice for standing by their religious beliefs.”