Independence Law Center files appeal to reverse lower court decision that discriminates against a long-time employee by forcing him to work on Sundays
(Philadelphia, PA) Today, the Independence Law Center, in conjunction with Baker Botts LLP, First Liberty Institute, the Church State Council and the Cornerstone Law Firm, filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit urging the court to reverse a lower court decision in favor of the USPS after the postal service discriminated against the sincerely-held beliefs of a long-time employee by forcing him to work on Sundays.
“It is wrong and unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of religion,” says Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel of the Independence Law Center. “We are filing this appeal to the Third Circuit because we need to correct this injustice.”
Gerald Groff was a mailman in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County for nearly seven years and received high praise for his work; with one supervisor calling him his best employee. When he was hired, Sunday work was not required for his position. Several years later, the USPS started parcel deliveries on Sundays. For a time, the Post Office and Mr. Groff worked flexibly together to accommodate his religious convictions of not working on Sundays. Mr. Groff picked up holiday, evening, and Saturday hours that others did not want to work.
However, the USPS began enforcing a no-exceptions Sunday policy on Mr. Groff and needlessly disciplined him. This resulted in him losing the job he loved.
“Mr. Groff was a strong employee who loved his job and was willing to work additional shifts on days other than Sundays. The USPS was even accommodating of his religious beliefs for a time and he did not present any undue hardship for his employer. Just as the Supreme Court recognized in a case involving the right of a Muslim worker to wear a head scarf at a clothing store, a government employer like the Post Office should reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs. The Post Office had other options for delivering packages on Sundays without making this employee violate his religious conscience,” adds Wenger.
In February 2020, Mr. Groff filed a federal lawsuit. The Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania ruled against him in April 2021.
Independence Law Center is a non-profit civil rights law firm based in Pennsylvania specializing in First Amendment issues.