On June 29, the Supreme Court gave a unanimous ruling in favor of Gerald Groff, a former postal service employee in Pennsylvania who claims to have faced retaliation for refusing to work on Sundays. Groff v. DeJoy has been heralded as a victory for religious freedom, as it strikes down elements of a previous case used by employers to justify denying accommodations to religious employees.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/news/2023/supreme-court-strengthens-religious-protections-employees-and-sabbath-observance
I will be interested to note if Mr. Reinach will be so gung-ho to represent a woman whose religion allows her to have an abortion, or a family whose religion allows plural marriage. Day-of-worship cases seem fairly clear, but religious liberty can travel to many places.
Mr. Grof knew when he took the job that Sunday hours were always a possibility. Playing the religion card in the way it has been done here seems in poor taste.
A timely supplement:
“Sunday-Keeping, Gay Rights and Affirmative Action: Recent Decisions by the United States Supreme Court” By Nicholas P. Miller
ROY BRANSON LEGACY SABBATH SCHOOL
July 8, 2023 (California Times)
**9:45 a.m. Launch Meeting - Zoom
10:00 s.m. Zoom Launched
10:30 a.m. Session I
11:30 a.m. Session II
12:30 p.m. Digital Foodless Potluck
Groff didn’t win the case. Groff was given another day in the lower courts who need to review his case without a sole focus on the “de minimus” standard found in a case call Hardison v TWA (1977). Companies have hid behind the “di minimus” standard without really assessing if an accommodation would be an undue hardship. The Groff decision puts undue hardship where it should be “substantial” hardship, not de minimus" cost.
The Groff decision didn’t overturn the influence of CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreements) and their seniority systems. This was at issue in the TWA case in the Groff’s case. Since that was not overturned, then Groff more likely looses in the lower court’s review. What good that comes from the Groff decision is that most employers without unions can not longer hide behind the “de minimus” standard. They have to show substantial hardship to the company’s operations.
Groff didn’t know that Sunday hours were going to be a problem. Groff worked for years at the Post Office predating the contracts with Amazon that required delivery on Sundays. When Groff joined the Post Office there was no Sunday work. Then came Amazon and Sunday work became a thing. Groff then moved from a large post office to a much smaller one that didn’t have a contract with Amazon. That did well until that small post office took a contract with Amazon. Initially the much smaller post office worked hard at accommodation Groff, even the Post Master took his route the days Groff was scheduled on Sundays. But then frustrated employees felt the seniority system and Collective Bargaining Agreement was being violated. And that will be the sticking point when the lower courts review Groff’s case with the instructions given from SCOTUS.
Knowing Alan, though I can’t read his mind, I think he would. As it is with any case one has to review all the elements contained within it. But Alan is very pro-RL for all.
Will Spectrum be reporting on the result of the case it filed a brief on?
What was the brief about?
On what case was the brief filed?
Thanks to Alan Reinach and his tireless work on Church-State issues. His efforts over the years have been a blessing to not only a healthy Constitution, but to our unique perspective in this age of religious dogma.
It is simplistic to construe the Supreme Court’s opinion in Groff v. DeJoy as a victory for religious liberty. For six of the justices, the Court’s ruling is an expression of their Christian White Nationalism, which is antithetical, ironically, to religious liberty. We Seventh-day Adventists need to be exceedingly careful about making common cause with Christian White Nationalists. Such an undertaking is highly dangerous and risks compromise of our unique eschatological message. The Roberts Court is quickly becoming what we have always expected the Supreme Court to be during the closing days of Earth’s history.
It is my hope that SDA’s know when to separate from the SCOTUS pack (or lower courts) on issues we know are wrong. Clearly, much of our membership already share more in common with RightWing Evangelicals than they would ever admit. That Faustian bargain may have more of a hold on our Clergy, admin, schools, and legal team than we’d like to admit.
As supportive as we all are of the importance of religious liberty, I do have concerns about the somewhat ambivalent views we have of who is doing the ‘working’ on Sabbath in terns of whether or not they need the protection of the courts. Apparently it’s okay for hospital employees or physicians to work on Sabbath, along with cafeteria workers at SDA universities, etc. Point being, it’s not an absolute standard. And while some may suggest that there are good reasons for those variances, my concern is that we have made the Sabbath into a type of talisman, which is not supported by scripture.
Historically, our church’s support for religious liberty has been to protect our members’ (and others) ability to worship as they chose. In recent times, such as several cases heard by SCOTUS, religious liberty is being waved as a banner in support of invoking the right to discriminate against others’ rights, such as Hobby Lobby and the ‘fake’ case brought by the web designer who wants to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community because to serve them would violate her own religious views. We should be careful about perceived alliances in those quarters.
In Groff I don’t believe the expression of the six justices that promote the privileging of Christianity legally was doing it for those reasons. The issue was the messed up way that the “de minimus” standard was being used in religious accommodation cases. Both the conservatives and liberals of the Court saw the problem. Neither side wanted to wait for Congress to make changes to the statute (which is where statute changes are made) so they, without overthrowing the TWA case that brought us the “de minimus” standard, brought out the fact that substantial difficulty is the true intent of the statute when defining “undue hardship.” It was a good decision in that regard, but it will, ironically, not help Groff when his case is redone in the lower courts because CBAs and seniority systems were left in place in the decision, the very thing that got Groff sideways with the PO.
Yes, another Supreme Court story will be published on Friday, including this case.
Linda, I disagree that historically, our religious liberty ministry is primarily about self interest. It never has been. Our global reputation in this area is significant, and it is about defending religious liberty for all. I am proud of that legacy. I do agree that too often these days, religious liberty is distorted beyond recognition.
Phillip: I don’t disagree that the supreme court itself has a troubling proclivity for christian nationalism. Its just that this was not that case, hence the unanimous support from the liberal wing, and an amicus brief filed by Americans United, joined by Lambda Legal.
Thanks, Nancy. we try. I appreciate very much the encouragement.
Actually, he did not know. Mail carriers have not been required to deliver on Sunday for a very very long time. Do you fault us for pursuing claims on behalf of Adventists who lose their jobs because they won’t work on Sabbath?