Woke Corporations Get a Wake-Up Call

July 7, 2023
FLI Insider | Woke Inc

by Layton Brown & Jorge Gomez • 5 min read

Woke corporations that have pushed religious employees into the shadows just got a wake-up call. The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in our Faithful Carrier case held that workplaces must provide more meaningful religious accommodations to people of faith.

Last week, the Court unanimously ruled in favor of Gerald Groff, who lost his job as a postal worker because the U.S. Postal Service would not accommodate his religious beliefs to honor the Lord’s Day.

But this isn’t just a win for one former postal carrier from rural Pennsylvania. It’s a victory for every American in the workplace.

Previously, businesses could deny accommodations for their religious employees simply by pointing to minor inconveniences or minimal burdens. That troubling legal standard is what just changed.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court explained that the law previously failed to give religious employees the legal protections to which they are entitled: “a bevy of diverse religious organizations has told this Court that the [previous] de minimis test has blessed the denial of even minor accommodation in many cases, making it harder for members of minority faiths to enter the job market.” The Court struck down the de minimis test.

The court set a major precedent. Moving forward, employers cannot deny religious accommodations unless they can prove that accommodating their employees would “result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.”

This Faithful Carrier case involved the U.S. Postal Service as the employer, but the implications extend beyond far beyond government. This will affect all companies and corporations with at least 15 employees. Public as well as private employees are protected by the Groff ruling.

This will have far-reaching impact, especially at a time when religious freedom is under heavy attack in the workplace. Now more than ever, companies appear to be caving in to radical agendas, going “woke” and joining the cultural bandwagon that celebrates the modern orthodoxy on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Companies are free to support whatever causes they choose. But, these woke corporations have operated under a double standard. Many say they are trying to promote “diversity, equity and inclusion.” However, tolerating diverse viewpoints and people with different beliefs appeared only to be an empty promise.

Instead, what many companies do is try to force religious Americans to celebrate ideas with which they disagree. Those who don’t conform often face the consequences. Woke corporations quickly “cancel,” crack down, punish, demote or even fire any religious person for expressing a viewpoint that doesn’t conform to Leftist ideology, or for failing to express a viewpoint that the company demands.

This behavior is unlawful. Companies that fire or take adverse action against Americans based on their religious beliefs are violating federal law.

The Groff decision will bring relief to people of faith at “woke” corporations. The Supreme Court made clear that an employer may not deny an employee’s religious accommodation based on bias or hostility toward the employee’s beliefs or religious practices. This fortifies the protections already in place under federal law that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of religion.

Woke corporate America would be well served to understand that religious accommodation is not merely a suggestion. It’s an obligation under the law. This means employers should revise their employee handbook and anti-discrimination policies to ensure that they are providing robust protection to their employees of faith in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision.

We can celebrate this tremendous win for religious liberty in our Faithful Carrier case. But the fight for religious liberty in the workplace is not yet over.

Now, we have to take this landmark win and make sure employers follow the Supreme Court’s direction and comply with federal law. With the Groff ruling in hand, First Liberty is now in a stronger position as we continue to fight for Americans who lost their jobs because of their religious beliefs.

We are still in the thick of the fight for our clients, including Fire Chief Ron Hittle, flight attendants Lacey Smith and Marli Brown, physician assistant Valerie Kloosterman, nurse practitioner Robyn Strader and college professor Dr. Johnson Varkey. They were all wrongfully fired for their faith.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Defending religious liberty in the marketplace is a critical legal battlefront today. Everyday Americans of all faiths wake up every day to make a living for their families and to fulfill their divinely-inspired calling. Purging them from the workforce simply because of their faith is wrong and illegal.

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