The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision to protect employees’ religious beliefs in the case of a mail carrier who would not work on the sabbath.
On June 29, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in Groff v. DeJoy, saying that employers could not issue a common test to see what religious accommodations a new employee would need. Now, employers must grant employees’ requests for religious accommodations unless those accommodations would place “substantial increased costs” on the business.
“Employers must show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of their particular business,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the majority opinion.
The case overturned a previous 1977 case, Trans World Airlines v. Hardison, which ruled that employers did not need to make religious accommodations for employees if it inflicted more than trifling or “de minimis” cost on how they conducted business. The court justified the 1977 ruling by citing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects employers from discriminating against applicants or employees based on religious beliefs, race, sex, and national origin.
In a June 29 statement, the USCCB praised the court for expanding protections for religious employees, calling it a major win and a fair correction of the Hardison ruling. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, praised the ruling as a great victory for religious liberty.
“In so many ways today, we see people of faith being told that they can only follow their religious beliefs in private or within the four walls of a church,” said Cardinal Dolan. “But religious freedom means nothing if it does not extend to the public square. And the public square is better off when religion is welcome there.”
Cardinal Dolan said that the ruling supports a push to increase diversity within workplaces.
“In the workplace, we meet and collaborate with people from other walks of life. Working together requires navigating personal differences with compassion and respect, and that obligation applies to religious differences no less than others,” said Dolan.
Groff v. DeJoy originated from a dispute between mail carrier Gerald Groff and his employer, the United States Postal Service (USPS). Groff, an evangelical Christian, was forced to work on Sundays after Amazon and the USPS signed a 2013 agreement for small-town carriers to deliver packages on Sunday. Groff wanted to observe Sunday as the Sabbath as prescribed in the bible. He was disciplined for missing work and quit after he felt like he had to choose between God and his job. Groff had requested Sundays off, but the USPS denied his request.
“I felt that I had to make a decision between what the post office wanted and what God wanted of me,” Groff said in an interview on Thursday. “I hope that this is inspiring to people because in America we do have these freedoms and they’re protected.”
The USCCB’s statement comes days after the conference released a statement condemning 30 Catholic Democrats for signing a letter in support of abortion.