Corey Devine Quoted in Law360 Article on U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision Regarding Religious Accommodations

Muskat Devine partner Corey Devine has been quoted in a Law360 article on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding employers’ religious accommodation obligations under Title VII.

The article, headlined “3 Takeaways After Justices Tackle Religious Accommodations,” discusses the court’s ruling in Groff v. DeJoy, a case brought on behalf of a former U.S. Postal Service employee who refused to work on Sundays due to his religious beliefs.

In Groff, the court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires an employer that denies religious accommodations to show that an undue hardship exists such that an accommodation request is not reasonable.

The article highlights three main takeaways from the decision.

1. The standard has now changed.

The high court’s 1977 decision in Trans World Airlines Inc. v. Hardison defines “undue hardship” under Title VII to mean anything more than a minimal burden on the employer.

The Groff decision changes the standard and requires more from employers. Mr. Devine told Law360 it is a significant change.

“Top line is, it’s going to require employers to make more religious accommodations, full stop. I mean, the court goes to great pains to say that it’s not overruling Hardison — and I understand they didn’t want to overrule Hardison for a number of reasons — but the interpretation of Hardison is very different than what has been applied by courts before this decision.”

The article goes on to say that the court’s decision means employers will have to consider religious accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis.

2. The Supreme Court has shown increased sympathy toward religious freedom.

Mr. Devine said the decision could have an impact beyond Groff.

“Big picture, if we’re stepping way back, I think we’re seeing a court that’s willing to consider the ways religious liberty may require employers and others to change the way they do things to accommodate those religious practices,” he said.

3. Expect more litigation.

Mr. Devine told Law360 the decision will have a ripple effect on other issues.

“This is about vaccine refusals. This is about employees of health care providers who don’t want to have contact with patients who need abortion care. This is much bigger than somebody who’s asking for time off on Saturday or Sunday,” he said.

“Listen, what if there’s one employee who says, ‘I don’t want to interact with a gay employee at all because it’s contrary to my religious beliefs?’ There’s a lot of situations that I think this cracks the door on.”

To read the full article, click here.