The U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies and Updates the Standard for Religious Accommodations Case Overview
On June 29, 2023, in a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court redefined how employers must evaluate religious accommodation requests under federal law. In Groff v. LeJoy, Postmaster General, the Court heard a civil rights challenge under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Mr. Groff, an Evangelical Christian, and a former postal worker residing in rural southeast Pennsylvania, asserted that the United States Postal Service (USPS) impacted his ability to observe his Sunday Sabbath as a religious day of rest because they required him to work certain Sundays. The USPS denied Groff’s request for an accommodation to not work on Sundays and began to progressively discipline Groff for his continuing refusal to do so. In light of an expected termination from employment, Groff instead resigned and then brought suit against the USPS alleging violation of Title VII for failing to accommodate his religious beliefs.
Attorney Felicia Vasudevan, a partner at Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP, received a favorable decision on behalf of her client, Marshfield Public Schools. The Plaintiff appealed the district court’s judgement that upheld a decision of the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”). However, as the notice was filed more than 30 days after entry, the First Circuit ultimately dismissed the appeal for being untimely. The Plaintiff also appealed the district court’s order, denying her motion to vacate. Read More
Following our Alert from March 16, 2023, Civility is Dead – The Supreme Court Rules Municipal Control of Public Speak Limited to Reasonable Time/Place/Manner Restrictions, which discussed the holding to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Barron v. Kolenda and the Town of Southborough (SJC-13284), we promised to bring you more detailed guidance on developing a Public Speak policy for your public body or municipality. The Barron case involved a constitutional challenge to the Town of Southborough’s public comment policy, which attempted to impose a code of civility on members of the public who participated in public comment before public bodies. In Barron, the court interpreted the state constitution to mean that public bodies may request, but not require, that public commentators be respectful and courteous. Instead, a public body may set restrictions on reasonable time, place, and manner comments to ensure that the meeting retains an orderly and peaceable manner.