Appellate court rules against Christian postman seeking Sunday exemption

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


A three-judge panel has upheld a lower court’s ruling that the United States Postal Service acted within the bounds of the Constitution when it required a Christian to work Sunday shifts.

As reported in more detail by the Christian Post, Gerald Groff, formerly a mail carrier in Pennsylvania, had originally sued the Post Office in 2021 over having been required to work a series of Sundays, during which time USPS handled Amazon deliveries. USPS contracted with Amazon in 2013 to handle select package deliveries.  

Groff had requested a religious exemption based on his sincerely held belief that Christians should not work on Sunday, but was denied and filed suit claiming USPS had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

His case was initially thrown out in April 2021, and his appeal to Pennsylvania’s 3rd Circuit fared no better.

Circuit Judges Patty Shwartz, an Obama appointee, and Julio Fuentes, a Clinton appointee, found that the USPS acted appropriately.

“Exempting Groff from working on Sundays caused more than a [trivial] cost on USPS because it actually imposed on his coworkers, disrupted the workplace and workflow, and diminished employee morale,” the ruling reads.

Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman, a George W. Bush appointee, disagreed with a portion of his colleagues’ ruling.

“Inconvenience to Groff’s coworkers alone doesn’t constitute undue hardship,” Hardiman wrote. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stayed Gerald Groff from the completion of his appointed rounds. But his sincerely held religious belief precluded him from working on Sundays. Because USPS has not yet shown that it could not accommodate Groff’s Sabbatarian religious practice without its business suffering undue hardship, I respectfully dissent. The cause should be remanded for a trial on the question of undue hardship.”

Groff’s attorney said his client had not yet decided if he will appeal the ruling.