This week the Supreme Court heard verbal arguments about a postal worker who quit his job rather than work on his observed holy day. The case is critical because the Court will decide how hard employers need to try to accommodate the religious practices of employers. Under the 1977 ruling in TWA v. Hardison, an employer can argue that they don’t have to accommodate any request if it causes them an “undue hardship,” which the Court in Hardison defined as a “de minimis” cost. Courts across the nation have defined “de minimis” in different ways, with some courts routinely dismissing accommodation cases and others requiring employers to make reasonable attempts to accommodate.
Attorneys for both sides were well prepared to argue their positions, and it was pretty interesting to listen to. Here’s a link, and the audio is about 1.5 hours long. I cannot predict outcomes with certainty, but if I were to guess, I would say that the Court will leave the Hardison decision intact but tighten up the definition of what “undue hardship” means to encourage consistency in accommodation cases across the country. A clear decision in Groff v. DeJoy would give employers the information they need to understand their legal obligations and what they must reasonably do or not do in response to requests for accommodation. The net effect should be a reduction in the amount of litigation.
Founders’ First Freedom submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in favor of tightening the definition of undue hardship.