In a recent holding, the United States Supreme Court has redefined the religious accommodation standard under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). In Groff v. DeJoy, the Court held that an employer must allow a religious accommodation for employees unless the employer can show the burden of doing so “is substantial in the overall context of an employer’s business,” moving away from the long-standing “de minimis cost” standard.
Under Title VII, employers are required to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs as long as it does not impose an “undue hardship” on the business. Prior to the new holding, “undue hardship” has been held to mean anything that has more than a de minimus, or trivial, burden on the employer.
In Groff, the Supreme Court unanimously held that an employer must make such an accommodation unless it would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its business. The Supreme Court has now rejected the de minimus standard, thus requiring employers to demonstrate a greater level of burden before denying a religious accommodation request. Under this more vigorous standard, it is likely that employers could see an increase in religious accommodation requests and have greater difficulty in declining accommodations.
Moving forward, employers who receive religious accommodation requests from employees should carefully evaluate the facts and context of each individual request before taking action. Should you have any questions or if you need assistance in handling a religious accommodation request, please contact Ali Law Group.