Do you have a legal right to not work on Sunday?

Apr 18, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Apr 20, 2023, 2:39 pm

Gerald Groff, a former postal worker whose case will be argued before the Supreme Court, stands dur...

Gerald Groff, a former postal worker whose case will be argued before the Supreme Court, stands during a television interview near a "Now Hiring" sign posted at the roadside at the United State Postal Service, Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in Quarryville, Pa. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

(Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The question before the U.S. Supreme Court this morning was “Do you have a legal right to not work on Sunday?” Can you force your employer to accommodate your religious beliefs and not require you to work on Sunday?

Oral arguments concluded just after 10 a.m. in Utah in the case of Groff v. DeJoy. Here’s the story: Gerald Groff worked for the postal service. The problem began in 2013 when the USPS entered into a contract with Amazon to deliver packages on Sundays. Groff, an evangelical Christian, did not want to work on Sundays. He refused to do so, was reprimanded, and eventually resigned.

The lawsuit

Groff sued the post office in federal court, arguing that its failure to accommodate his religious practice was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. A federal district judge rejected that argument. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

This brings us to this morning. Groff’s lawyer argued that requiring an employer to pay $1 more an hour cannot meet the “undue hardship” test. That test was set out in the 46-year-old case of TWA v. Hardison. There the high court said that whenever an accommodation would require more than a “de minimis cost“, it constitutes an undue hardship. If it qualifies, the employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s religious practice.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that the additional expense of paying another employee to cover the Sunday shifts is not the only consideration. In this case, there was an issue with employee morale and the organization as a whole. There was a threat of an employee walkout on Sundays in this case. That, Prelogar argued, constitutes an undue hardship.

“How can $1 be an undue hardship?”

Both Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett pushed Prelogar on the money issue.

“How can you consider $1 an hour more an undue hardship for a company as large as Amazon or Walmart?” Justice Alito questioned.

Prelogar repeated that regularly paying overtime, along with regularly operating shorthanded and other issues, is what the undue hardship test was created for.

The Solicitor General told the justices to look at the situations where employees request religious accommodations as coming in three buckets. The first bucket involves requests for time off to observe the sabbath or prayer. The second bucket involves flexibility, where possible, with the religious dress. The third involves allowing the display of religious symbols in some locations. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, and Alito seemed to appreciate the bucket synopsis and asked to follow up questions on those points.

Counsel for Groff was not impressed. “We’ve heard a lot about buckets today, but not a lot about the plain meaning of the statute,” referring to Title VII.

Other stories by this author

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Crime, Police + Courts

Highland High school students arrested...

Devin Oldroyd

Two high school students arrested after allegedly bringing firearms on Highland High campus

Salt Lake City Police Department's school resource officers arrested three high school students after recovering two loaded firearms Monday.

21 hours ago

The Utah State Bureau of Investigation and the Utah Highway Patrol are investigating after witnesse...

Simone Seikaly

Witnesses report motorcycle passenger firing at silver car on NB I-15

Witnesses reported seeing someone on a black Harley Davidson motorcycle firing rounds from a firearm at a silver passenger car.

21 hours ago

A partial gag order issued in the case of Kouri Richins was welcomed by the family, a Richins famil...

Hugo Rikard-Bell

Kouri Richins family satisfied with partial gag order issued in case, says spokesman

A Third District Judge issued a partial gag order due to the popularity and interest in the Richins case.

21 hours ago

A truck involved in a road rage spat with another vehicle, crashed into this Porsche killing both o...


Two people killed in road rage crash near Eagle Mountain are identified

A man and a woman from Salt Lake County were killed in the wreck near Eagle Mountain in an alleged incident of road rage.

21 hours ago

gunlock falls is pictured...

Devin Oldroyd

Man nearly drowns at Gunlock Falls

A middle-aged man nearly drowned Sunday at Gunlock Falls. According to police, as far as they know he is still alive.

2 days ago

India train crash...

Kunal Sehgal, Ivan Watson, Ajay Bedi and Deepak Rao, CNN

‘We thought it was an earthquake’: Probe into deadly train crash focuses on signal failure, as rescue efforts end

Authorities investigating one of the deadliest train crashes in India’s history were examining whether a signal failure led to the disaster.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...

Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.

Do you have a legal right to not work on Sunday?