Supreme Court Delivers Unanimous Landmark Victory for Postal Carrier
Decision means fewer religious employees will have to choose between their faith and their job.
In a unanimous decision announced on Thursday, June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States granted a victory to former postal carrier Gerald Groff after Groff lost his job for observing the Sunday Sabbath. The decision strengthens legal protections for employees seeking religious accommodations, such as schedule changes to observe holy days, by requiring employers to provide accommodations unless doing so would result in substantial and burdensome costs in light of the size of the employer.
In its holding, the Supreme Court held that lower courts have been getting it wrong for the past fifty years in interpreting a past precedent to impose only a minimal burden on employers, although stopping short of outright reversing the prior precedent, TWA v. Hardison.
The decision means more employers will be required to take seriously their employees’ religious accommodation requests. Employees of faith often seek religious accommodations to honor their holy days, to take prayer breaks during the day, to dress according to their religious beliefs, or to otherwise not be forced to violate their religious beliefs on the job.
Mr. Groff was represented, in part, by Alan Reinach, Executive Director of the Church State Counsel: “The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision is a resounding victory for religious freedom. No longer will employers be able to dismiss religious accommodation requests as they have been doing all too often, assuming such discrimination comes with little legal risk” said Reinach. “Instead, workers of all faiths will no longer have to leave their faith at home when they go to work.”
In response to the decision, Gerald Groff said, “I am grateful to have had my case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and that they have decided to uphold religious liberty. I hope this decision allows others to be able to maintain their convictions without living in fear of losing their jobs because of what they believe.”
The Church State Council is the oldest public policy organization in the western United States devoted to religious freedom and the separation of church and state. It is a Seventh-day Adventist organization, the public affairs and religious liberty ministry of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The Council’s legal services ministry focuses
on serving those who need religious accommodation in the workplace or suffer discrimination.
Learn more about the work of the Church State Council and the implications of the Groff case at https://www.churchstate.org.
Northern California Conference
Our churches are committed to demonstrating kindness, serving their communities diligently, and remaining relevant. A popular outreach method regularly honors the sacrifices made by public servants, both men and women, who serve our nation or communities.
Bob Mason, district pastor of Yreka and Scott Valley churches, recently offered the invocation at a ceremony to honor those who had fallen in the line of duty. Yreka townspeople and law enforcement personnel attended this event, and retired NCC pastor, Jim Crabtree, sang the national anthem.
Southern California Conference
“This evangelistic series really never should have happened,” said Marco Topete, Van Nuys church pastor. “It was planned to be at a totally different place, at a different time. It was planned even before I knew that I was going to be a pastor. But God wanted it to be there.”
While the timing was a bit unexpected, Topete felt God’s leading to hold an evangelistic series at the church just a month after his installation. Resulting in 11 decisions for baptism and six weekly Bible studies, the series gave the opportunity for Topete and the church to hit the ground running.