Supreme Court delivers another ‘landmark victory’ in favor of Evangelical Christian mail carrier

In what is being hailed as a “landmark victory” for religious freedom in America, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) broke the law when they imposed “progressive discipline” on postal carrier Gerald Groff, an evangelical Christian, after he refused to work on Sundays.

“Gerald Groff is an Evangelical Christian who believes for religious reasons that Sunday should be devoted to worship and rest, not ‘secular labor’ and the ‘transport[ation]’ of worldly ‘goods,'” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the opinion. “In 2012, Groff began his employment with the United States Postal Service (USPS), which has more than 600,000 employees. He became a Rural Carrier Associate, a job that required him to assist regular carriers in the delivery of mail. When he took the position, it generally did not involve Sunday work. But within a few years, that changed.”

What changed was an agreement USPS made with retail giant Amazon “to begin facilitating Sunday deliveries.”

(Video: YouTube)

When Groff refused to work on his faith’s day of rest, USPS made “other arrangements,” according to Alito, but “Groff continued to receive ‘progressive discipline” for failing to work on Sundays.”

Alito cited the 1977 Supreme Court ruling in Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison, which said employers have the right to refuse to make religious accommodations for employees if doing so would result in more than a minimal cost to the business.

“In the briefs and at argument, little space was devoted to the question of determining when increased costs amount to an ‘undue hardship’ under the statute, but a single, but oft-quoted, sentence in the opinion of the Court, if taken literally, suggested that even a pittance might be too much for an employer to be forced to endure,” Alito wrote of the Hardison case.

According to Alito, “courts should resolve whether a hardship would be substantial in the context of an employer’s business in the commonsense manner that it would use in applying any such test.”

With this decision in hand, Groff’s case will now go back to the lower courts for the litigation to continue.

In the meantime, the decision is being celebrated as an important victory for “every American.”

“We won! In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the United States granted a victory to former postal carrier Gerald Groff,” the Pennsylvania Family Council announced on Twitter. “This is a landmark victory, not only for Gerald, but for every American. Thank you for your prayers!”

“As a native of Lancaster County, my desire has always been to help my community. Even while serving on mission trips around the world, Lancaster was always home. My family is from here, and my faith was molded here. Lancaster is my home,” Groff wrote in an op-ed for Fox News. “That’s one of the reasons being a full-time postal carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, seemed like such a perfect fit. Not only could I have a great job, working with wonderful people while serving my community, but I could also honor the Lord’s Day since when I started at the USPS, they didn’t deliver on Sundays.”

“If I had been willing to compromise what I believed and even worked just a handful of Sundays, I would have achieved enough seniority to have a full-time route and Sundays off,” he explained. “But that meant I either violate God’s command to honor the Lord’s Day by keeping it holy or honor Him and trust Him with the outcome. On the verge of my ideal career, I surrendered all my seniority, unwilling to sacrifice my hope of becoming a full-time carrier at the prospect of refusing God’s decree—even if it meant working just one Lord’s Day.”

“When everyone is treated fairly in the workplace, we help promote our nation’s historic commitment to religious diversity,” Groff wrote. “I am delighted that the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed our nation’s commitment to providing equal opportunity and fair treatment in the workplace. More than that, the justices affirmed my decision to trust God by honoring the Lord’s Day.”

“I am grateful to all those who have expressed their support—especially my family, community, co-workers and neighbors,” the faithful carrier said. “But I am especially grateful to live in a nation that continues to honor the important role religion plays in everyday life.”



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