Racial Equality

Americans United relieved by Supreme Court decision in Groff case, a clash between employers and religious freedom

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Americans United for Separation of Church and State President and CEO Rachel Laser issued the following statement in response to today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Groff v. DeJoy:

“We’re facing an aggressive movement working to weaponize religious freedom, but religious freedom must never be a license to harm others, and that remains true in the workplace. Today, in a unanimous opinion, the court ‘clarified’ the standard for granting religious accommodations without overturning precedent.

“Religious accommodations that don’t burden or harm others, like wearing a hijab or having a beard, or praying privately, are exactly what the law was designed to permit. In this case, however, Groff was hired as a part-time, flexible carrier at a 4-person post office, and he refused to show up for 24 Sundays of work. He refused to work the same flexible schedule for which he was hired. This created huge burdens for the remaining (mostly Christian) employees and led them to resign, transfer, file grievances, and cover for him while he, as he admitted, watched NASCAR on Sundays.

“Importantly, Groff has not won this case. We live to fight another day.”

“We argued that whatever standard the court adopted for workers seeking religious accommodations, the only way to ensure equality was to ensure that workers obeying the rules of their own religion do not harm others. If anything else were true, one religion would be superior to others. The court’s ‘clarified’ standard correctly allows employers to continue to consider the burdens an employee’s requested accommodation could impose on co-workers. Importantly, Groff has not won this case. The court refused to decide the specifics of Groff’s case and is leaving that to the lower courts, which got this case right the first time around. We live to fight another day.”

More information about the Groff v. DeJoy case is available here.

Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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Liz Hayes
Associate Vice President of Communications
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