On Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled against a former U.S. Postal worker who sued the USPS for requiring him to work on Sundays.
In 2019, Gerald Groff from Pennsylvania was allegedly forced to resign from the USPS after frequently missing work shifts. He later filed a lawsuit in 2020 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
At the time, the USPS had just announced a partnership with Amazon. It was only after the companies started working together that Groff says he began to be required to work on Sundays.
According to court documents, the only way Groff could have off Sundays was by switching shifts with other employees.
As reported by CBN News, Circuit Court Judge Patty Shwartz wrote that meeting Groff's request to take off on Sundays "would cause an undue hardship" for the USPS.
"Exempting Groff from working on Sundays ... imposed on his coworkers, disrupted the workplace and workflow, and diminished employee morale," the ruling states.
According to Groff's filing, the postal worker was "needlessly disciplined" regarding the matter.
Groff eventually resigned from the USPS and filed a lawsuit against the organization. In the lawsuit, Groff asked to be reinstated with accommodations being made for his religious exemption. He further asked for back pay for the time following his alleged forced resignation and an unspecified amount for emotional damages.
During last Wednesday's ruling, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hardiman issued a partial dissent, noting that "a conflict had to be totally eliminated to result in reasonable accommodation under Title VII."
"Inconvenience to Groff's coworkers alone doesn't constitute undue hardship. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stayed Gerald Groff from the completion of his appointed rounds," Hardiman wrote.
"But his sincerely held religious belief precluded him from working on Sundays, he added. "Because USPS has not yet shown that it could not accommodate Groff's Sabbatarian religious practice without its business suffering undue hardship, I respectfully dissent."
One of Groff's attorneys, David Crossett, argued that penalizing someone over their beliefs contradicts the foundation of religious freedom.
"In a free and respectful society, government should recognize those differences among us that make us great, rather than punishing those differences, particularly when those differences result from our sincerely held religious beliefs," Crossett said.
Photo courtesy: Pope Moysuh/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.