by Jorge Gomez • 5 min read
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of our Faithful Carrier Gerald Groff. He lost his job, because the U.S. Postal Service unlawfully refused to grant him a religious accommodation to observe the Lord’s Day.
In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court held that federal law requires workplaces to accommodate their religious employees unless doing so would cause substantial increased costs on the business. The decision strengthens legal protections for employees seeking religious accommodations, such as schedule changes to observe holy days. The far-reaching decision affects employment rights at every workplace with at least 15 employees in every state in the country.
“This is a landmark victory, not only for Gerald, but for every American. No American should be forced to choose between their faith and their job,” said First Liberty President, CEO, and Chief Counsel Kelly Shackelford. “The Court’s decision today restores religious freedom to every American in the workplace. This decision will positively help millions and millions of Americans—those who work now and their children and grandchildren.”
In response to the decision, Gerald Groff said, “I am grateful to have had my case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and that they have decided to uphold religious liberty. I hope this decision allows others to be able to maintain their convictions without living in fear of losing their jobs because of what they believe.”
Our legal team breaks down the decision in this special First Liberty Live! episode. Watch below:
“Woke” Corporations Get a Wake-Up Call
This decision sets a new legal standard for religious accommodation in the workplace that’s much more favorable toward people of faith. This sends a very clear message to every human resources department in ‘woke’ corporations, which have been driving their employees of faith into the shadows. After this victory, those employees of faith emerge triumphant and are empowered to say “no” to being forced to celebrate or endorse messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.
The Court significantly narrowed a 1977 case (TWA v. Hardison) that gave employers the upper hand. Previously, employers could avoid granting religious accommodations to employees of faith simply by pointing to a trifling, minimal, or “de minimis” impact. The new decision means most employers, especially large employers, will be legally required to respect their religious employees by granting them accommodations.
Employees of faith often seek religious accommodations to honor their holy days, to take prayer breaks during the day, to dress according to their religious beliefs, or to otherwise not be forced to violate their religious beliefs on the job. The Court remanded Gerald Groff’s case to the appellate court for reconsideration in light of the new legal standard.
Aaron Streett, a partner at Baker Botts, who argued Groff’s case before the Justices, said, “We are thrilled the Court today recognized that an America that values religious pluralism should respect the religious liberty rights of every employee. Our nation has a long history of protecting its employees from being treated differently at work just because of their faith. This decision is consistent with that history and is a tremendous win for all people of faith.”
Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel of the Independence Law Center, has been working alongside Gerald from the beginning. He said, “The Court understood that the previous standard was unworkable. We are grateful that the Justices determined that every employee deserves equal opportunity and fair treatment in the workplace.”
Alan Reinach, Executive Director the Church State Counsel, also brought his expertise to the case. He said, “Restoring Title VII’s focus of protecting religious employees protects Americans of all faiths from discrimination. Today’s decision strengthens legal protections for employees seeking religious accommodations… This is a great day for religious liberty in our nation.”
Thank you for standing strong alongside Gerald and First Liberty. Your ongoing prayers and financial support are the reason why our legal team can keep fighting—and winning—for everyday heroes like Gerald. We could not have won this case for Gerald and millions of Americans without you. You share a special part in this precedent-setting Supreme Court decision that will impact religious freedom in our country for decades to come.
As we rapidly approach our fiscal year end on June 30, you can have an even greater impact on pivotal religious liberty victories like today’s win for the faithful carrier Gerand Groff with your donation. Give before June 30 at midnight and increase the impact of your gift thanks to our $350,000 Challenge Grant. Together, we can fight and win even more for religious freedom in 2023.