Is Everyone Working For The Weekend? It May Be A Constitutional Issue.

prayer Memorial day, veterans day. Male hands folded in prayer, holding a rosary. The American flag is in the background. The concept amerikanskih holidays and religionWant to know that the best part of everyone’s job is? The weekend. I get the appeal. After working a 9-5 (or a 9 to whenever you are explicitly told you can nap as a treat), you want some time to recuperate from your labor. But one litigant thinks that there’s one person who goes further and demands that you must recuperate. He thinks that man is Jesus and the consequences of the firm belief that God prohibits him from working on the weekend has made it all the way up to the Robed Nine. Everyone is watching to see what they will do. Everyone’s looking at them. From Reuters:

An evangelical Christian former mail carrier’s fight with the U.S. Postal Service over his refusal to work on Sundays gives the Supreme Court another chance to widen religious rights but also has led to a debate over whether religious people are more legally deserving than others to weekend days off from work.

The justices are set to hear arguments on Tuesday in an appeal by Gerald Groff, a former mail carrier in Pennsylvania, of a lower court’s ruling rejecting his claim of religious discrimination against the Postal Service for refusing to exempt him from working on Sundays, when he observes the Christian Sabbath. Groff sued after being disciplined for repeatedly failing to show up when assigned a Sunday work shift.

“The whole point of religious accommodation is you have to make special or favored arrangements in order to have an inclusive workforce,” said Alan Reinach, one of Groff’s attorneys.

I’ll tell you one thing. As good as this is going to be for office gossip, it will be a mess for office politics. You ever see a heated argument about why smokers get to take the occasional to frequent 15-minute smoke break while Clean Lung McGee has to tough it out until lunch? Maybe you’ve been part of an argument over why or one of your childless friends can’t take off that weekend because Timmy down the hall has priority. Why? His kid has a soccer game and you’d be the party pooper for keeping him away from his son. Can you imagine the drama to come when Bobert misses Ash Wednesday but still wants to take the day off Sunday?

If the Court rules in his favor, I wonder if this will apply to all religions with Sabbaths — Fridays for Jews and Muslims for example, or just the “real” religions like Christianity. Real to the Court, at least. We can play at religious neutrality all you want, but the justices have gone to lengths arguing as if Christianity is the default for a while now. Remember Salazar v. Buono? Thankfully, NPR has a great recording of how evenhanded Supreme Court justices have been with religious equality:

Scalia got into a heated disagreement with an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer over whether the Christian cross is a religious symbol specific to a particular religion.

It would seem like an odd thing to argue about since it’s doubtful anyone thinks of Islam or Judaism when he or she sees a cross.

But Scalia clearly holds a different view.

Before we get to the view, I’d like to warn you that this take is pure applesauce.

JUSTICE SCALIA: The cross doesn’t honor non-Christians who fought in the war? Is that — is that —

MR. ELIASBERG: I believe that’s actually correct.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Where does it say that?

MR. ELIASBERG: It doesn’t say that, but a cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity and it signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins, and I believe that’s why the Jewish war veterans —

JUSTICE SCALIA: It’s erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead. It’s the — the cross is the — is the most common symbol of — of — of the resting place of the dead, and it doesn’t seem to me — what would you have them erect? A cross — some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Moslem half moon and star?

MR. ELIASBERG: Well, Justice Scalia, if I may go to your first point. The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of Christians. I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew.

For what it is worth, the case has had support from members of other religious groups as well:

Under Title VII, employers must make allowances for a worker’s religious observance or practices unless that would cause the business “undue hardship” – which the Supreme Court in a 1977 case called Trans World Airlines v. Hardison determined to be anything imposing more than a minor, or “de minimis,” cost.

Groff’s attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Hardison precedent and require companies to show a “significant difficulty or expense” before denying an accommodation.

Groups representing some religions that are in the minority in the United States including Islam, Judaism and Hinduism told the Supreme Court that the Hardison standard has disproportionately impacted them and should be revised.

“By allowing employers to refuse to accommodate employees’ beliefs for almost any reason, Hardison forces devout employees to an impossible daily choice between religious duty and livelihood,” the Muslim Public Affairs Council wrote in a brief.

I’m not sure how the case will turn out to be honest — things have been a little vague since Bremerton. There’s some heavy doubt that that case would have come out the way that it did 10 or 20 years ago. Thankfully, we are slated to get an answer on this matter quicker than that.

Supreme Court Considers Christian Mail Carrier’s Refusal To Work Sundays [Reuters]

Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s.  He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at and by tweet at @WritesForRent.


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