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Supreme Court rules on religious accommodation

On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Groff v. DeJoy, in which a former rural letter carrier sued the Postal Service for failing to accommodate his request to not be assigned work on Sundays because of his religious beliefs. NALC, along with the National Rural Letter Carriers Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, filed a joint brief in this case which emphasized the practical difficulties posed by Groff's request in light of chronic understaffing in the Post Office where he worked and the potential adverse impact of Groff's request on his fellow employees. The unions argued that the Court should remand the case to the lower courts for consideration of these factors.

The Court's decision clarified employers' obligation to accommodate an employee’s request for religious accommodation under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to the Postal Service. Under Title VII, such accommodation is required unless the accommodation would impose an "undue hardship" on the conduct of the employer’s business. The Court defined "undue hardship" to refer to "substantial increased cost" and that the test must be applied "in a manner that takes into account all relevant factors."

The Court ultimately remanded the case to the lower courts to apply this test to the facts of the case, as suggested in the unions' joint brief.

NALC members will be apprised of any impacts of this decision on the city letter carrier craft as the judicial process continues in the lower courts.