First Liberty Argues in Federal Appeals Court, Defending USPS Worker Forced to Quit

January 28, 2022
Fli Insider 01 28 2022 | USPS Worker

by Jorge Gomez and Liberty McArtor • 5 min read

This week, First Liberty attorneys—along with Aaron Streett of Baker Botts, Alan Reinach of the Church State Council, Randall Wenger of the Independence Law Center, and David Crossett of Cornerstone Law Firm—were back in a federal appeals court.

Our legal teams argued at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of our client Gerald Groff, a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employee who was forced to quit because of his religious beliefs.

In this critical moment when millions of religious Americans are increasingly facing discrimination in the workplace, the outcome of Gerald’s case could have broad impact for your right—and the right of millions—to live and work in accordance with your faith.

Gerald’s Story

Gerald Groff started working for the USPS in 2012 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he eventually became a Rural Carrier Associate. Gerald believes he must honor the Christian Sabbath and asked for a religious accommodation for Sundays off, which his supervisor granted.

When the postal service began delivering packages on Sundays, Gerald asked for an accommodation, which is required under federal law. The postmaster granted the request. Gerald agreed to work extra shifts during the week to make up for Sundays.

But in the summer of 2016, the USPS changed its position and required Gerald to work on Sundays. He ended up losing his job, then sued the USPS for trampling on his First Amendment rights and violating federal law.

Whether it’s in the boardrooms of corporate America or the woke ideologies that have infiltrated many of our government agencies, there’s growing intolerance and hostility toward religion. People of faith are often put in the untenable position of choosing between their work or their beliefs. It’s totally unnecessary.

Not only is this wrong and outrageous, its unlawful. This country was established on religious freedom. Federal law requires religious accommodation, if it can reasonably be accomplished, such as juggling a schedule.

A win for Gerald would be a substantial victory for all employees of faith in America. But this is just one of several cases we’re litigating to protect religious freedom in the workplace.

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Some Other Battles to Protect Religious Freedom at Work

In addition to Gerald’s case, we have other major cases involving Americans who lost their jobs for living out their faith. These could be very significant to help ensure Americans can express their faith at work and receive religious accommodations without fear of being fired.

  • The Bremerton School District fired Coach Joe Kennedy for saying a silent prayer at the 50-yard-line after a football game. We recently got confirmation that the Supreme Court will hear his case. A victory for Coach Kennedy could be historic, ringing in a new era of free religious exercise for teachers, coaches and public sector employees.
  • Alaska Airlines fired our two clients for questioning the company’s support of the Equality Act based. Lacey Smith and another flight attendant responded to the company’s request for comment and expressed their opinions based on their beliefs on an employee-only page. Firing them for their faith is not allowed. This case could help set a precedent to stop the toxic cancel culture and the “woke” corporate policies that continually threaten the livelihood of people of faith in the workplace.

The good news is that when First Liberty answers the call to defend American workers, we regularly succeed. Our record of victories includes important wins for clients such as:

  • Eric Walsh, a medical expert with decades of experience and multiple advanced degrees, who was fired from his job as a public health administrator because of the sermons he gave as a lay minister.
  • Bob Eschliman, who received nearly 70 awards as a journalist, but was fired from his job as newspaper editor, because he expressed his religious beliefs in a personal blog post.
  • Thomas Banks, a former contractor with the Ford Motor Company, who was fired after respectfully expressing his religious beliefs in an online, intra-company forum.
  • Toni Richardson, an educational technician for children with special needs, who was threatened with termination because she privately told a coworker she would pray for him.

A huge reason we were able to provide the best-of-the-best legal defense for our clients—and win for them—is because of Americans like YOU who value religious freedom and generously give to First Liberty.

As we await the Third Circuit’s decision on Groff’s case and prepare to return to the Supreme Court to fight for Coach Kennedy, will you continue to lend us your support? A timely donation today impacts not just our clients, but all Americans of faith in the workplace as we fight together to defend their rights.

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