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USA News

Right not to work on Sundays tested in US Supreme Court hearing

by Premier Journalist

In the United States, judges sitting on the Supreme Court are considering the arguments of a Christian postal worker who refused to work on Sundays when asked to deliver Amazon packages.

Gerald Groff had been working as a fill-in mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, covering days when other postal deliverers were off. But he lost his job when an contract with the Postal Service required carriers to start delivering packages on Sundays.

He said no.

“Sunday’s a day where we get together and almost taste heaven,” Groff told The New York Times. “We come together as believers. We celebrate who we are, together. We worship God. And so to be asked to deliver Amazon parcels and give all that up, it’s just really kind of sad.”

Mr Groff resigned from the USPS in 2019 before being sacked.

He then sued for religious discrimination, citing a federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to accommodate employees’ religious practices unless doing so would be an “undue hardship” for the business.

However, he lost his case in a lower court, which ruled that his request would cause an “undue burden” on the USPS and lead to low morale at the workplace when other employees had to pick up his shifts. His appeal then went to Washington.

Mr Groff’s lawyer Aaron Streett urged the Supreme Court to say that employers must show “significant difficulty or expense” if they want to reject a religious accommodation.

The hearing this week at the Supreme Court is the latest case which the bench of judges has to consider religious liberty rights. With a 6-3 conservative majority following judicial appointments by President Donald Trump, U.S commentators say the Court is more disposed to the concerns of religious plaintiffs.

Last year, the U.S Supreme Court ruled that a public high school football coach should be allowed to pray on the field after games. In another case, the court is weighing the claims of a Christian graphic artist who wants to create wedding websites, but not for couples in same-sex relationships. 

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