Thursday, June 29, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that religious accommodations must be made by employers.
The decision comes after Gerald Groff resigned as a United States Postal Service letter carrier in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, because his employer would not let him observe the Sabbath on Sundays.
A federal district court previously threw out Groff’s case, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit affirmed the ruling. The appeals court felt that exempting Groff from working on Sundays was a burden to his co-workers and disrupted the workplace and workflow.
The conservative-majority Supreme Court has now ruled in his favor. This decision maintains the protection of religious freedom as protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the act protects against discrimination based on color, religion, sex, national origin, and race.
The decision made today by the Supreme Court may bring more questions than answers, however. Employers wonder what this will mean for businesses. To what extent will employers have to accommodate religious exemptions, and how can they protect against employers who may erroneously cite religious reasons for exemptions?
In response to the ruling, Justice Samuel Lito wrote for the majority, “An employer must show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantially increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.”
While this response does provide an answer for employers, they nonetheless still question the extent to which certain accommodations must be met.