Christian mail carrier’s refusal to work on Sundays now heading to the U.S. Supreme Court

Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 6:19 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A Christian postal worker who refuses to work on Sundays says he was forced to quit his job because the U.S. Postal Service wouldn’t accommodate him. Now the U.S. Supreme Court will decide how far his freedom of religion goes as they hear arguments Tuesday in the case of Groff v DeJoy.

Read more on the case of Gerald E. Groff, Petitioner v Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General

Former Postal worker Gerald Groff said the issue started in 2016 when the Quarryville post office in Pennsylvania began Sunday deliveries for Amazon. Groff transferred to a different office in Holtwood, to avoid the Sunday work. But Holtwood eventually started Sunday deliveries too. Groff said at first he was exempt. But later, he was required to work. So Groff quit in 2019.

University of Virginia constitutional law expert, Douglas Laycock, believes it’s a constitutional gray area.

“The judicial standard for the last 40 years has not been what Congress enacted. The standard, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is our main employment discrimination statute says employers cannot discriminate based on religion. Religion includes all aspects of religious belief and practice. If the employer can accommodate the employee’s religious practice without undue hardship to the business. So the question is what counts as an undue hardship?” said Laycock.

Laycock said the 1977 Supreme Court case called Trans World Airlines v. Hardison defined undue hardship as anything that imposes more than a minor cost on a business. He believes the current conservative leaning Supreme Court will likely change that definition.

“Now we have a majority of the court is much more sympathetic to free exercise of religion claims. And, the whole court really, but especially the conservative majority, is much more attentive to the text of statutes. And so they have finally agreed to take a look at this. And I’m pretty sure they’re going to adopt a new and higher standard,” said Laycock.

Arguments will begin at the Supreme Court on April 18th.