Religious Accommodation in the Workplace, Undue Hardship, and the Impact on Coworkers

33 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2023

See all articles by Debbie Kaminer

Debbie Kaminer

Zicklin School of Business, Department of Law, Baruch College - The City University of New York

Date Written: March 20, 2023

Abstract

On January 13, 2023, the United States Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in Groff v. DeJoy and agreed to reconsider its previous decision defining undue hardship under § 701(j) of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as any cost greater than de minimis. Under Title VII, employers must reasonably accommodate an employees’ religious needs unless accommodation would cause “undue hardship” on the employer’s business. The Court also agreed to consider whether an undue hardship can be shown based on an accommodation that burdens the religious employee’s coworkers. The Roberts Court is both the most pro-religion Court in at least 70 years and the most pro-business Court in the last century and § 701(j) presents a dilemma for the Court since religious accommodation cases often pit the rights of religious employees against the rights of businesses.

This article will address the issues raised by the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in Groff and the potential impact of the Court’s decision which will likely redefine undue hardship as a significant difficulty or expense. The article will specifically focus on the impact a higher accommodation requirement would have on coworkers since employers will likely attempt to shift any increased cost of accommodation onto coworkers. This article will address how to best balance the rights of religious employees seeking an accommodation with the rights of their coworkers in these cases.

Keywords: religious accommodation, religion and work, 701(j), Groff v. DeJoy, undue hardship, Title VII

Suggested Citation

Kaminer, Debbie, Religious Accommodation in the Workplace, Undue Hardship, and the Impact on Coworkers (March 20, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4393316 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4393316

Debbie Kaminer (Contact Author)

Zicklin School of Business, Department of Law, Baruch College - The City University of New York ( email )

New York, NY
United States

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