Speed Reads

Sunday delivery

Supreme Court weighs Christian former mail carrier's right to refuse Sunday shifts

A former mail carrier is bringing his fight with U.S. Postal Service to the Supreme Court after he was penalized for refusing to work on Sundays due to his beliefs as an evangelical Christian. His case "gives the Supreme Court another chance to widen religious rights," Reuters says,  "but also has led to a debate over whether religious people are more legally deserving than others to weekend days off from work."

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in an appeal by former mail carrier Gerald Groff of a lower court's ruling that rejected "his claim of religious discrimination against the Postal Service for refusing to exempt him from working on Sundays when he observes the Christian Sabbath," The New York Times explains. Groff sued his former employers after he was disciplined for repeatedly failing to show up for Sunday shifts. 

Sunday shifts were not initially required in Groff's role, "but then the USPS signed a deal to carry Amazon parcels," The Wall Street Journal reports. Initially, Groff said he was given an exemption "so long as he covered other shifts throughout the week," per court records. Eventually, he was disciplined for missing 24 Sunday shifts, leading him to resign. The court will hear arguments on whether USPS violated Groff's right to reasonable accommodation for his religious practice under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

The Supreme Court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, has "lately been exceptionally receptive to claims of religious discrimination, largely from Christians," signaling that "Groff's prospects are good," says the Times. If the court rules in his favor, the ruling would "extend a remarkable run of decisions chipping away at the wall between church and state and expanding the role of religion in public life, sometimes at the expense of other values, like gay rights and access to contraception," the Times adds.