Gary Gilbert was quoted in a February 2, 2023 Bloomberg Law News article regarding a recent US Supreme Court review of the 1977 decision in Trans World Airlines v. Hardison. The decision in Hardison permitted employers to deny a request for religious accommodation under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act if the request would impose more than a de minimis burden or cost on the employer. Overturning this decision would have major implications for persons seeking religious accommodation in the workplace, including requests to be relieved from work schedules that conflict with religious holidays that require abstaining from work. Although the case concerns a plaintiff who is Christian, individuals of minority faiths may be disproportionately more likely to file religious bias charges related to the denial of religious accommodations. There has been tension between the Title VII rights of individuals to seek accommodations of their religious beliefs when there is a potential conflict with terms of employment negotiated with labor Unions.
A coalition of Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, and other religious public interest groups filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court calling for a higher standard with some advocates calling for a test akin to that of the American with Disabilities Act. However, the US Solicitor General argued before the Supreme Court that granting the requested accommodation would have required the USPS to violate its collective bargaining agreement with the mail delivery workers. The following is an excerpt from the Bloomberg News article in which Mr. Gilbert commented on this issue:
- Before the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case, the US Solicitor General said it wasn’t the right vehicle to revisit Hardison because granting the requested accommodation would’ve required USPS to violate its collective bargaining agreement with the union representing mail delivery workers.
- That argument isn’t ripe for review because “what’s before the court is the interpretation of undue hardship,” said Gary M. Gilbert, principal of Gilbert Employment Law PC.
- However, the role of union contracts will likely get teed up in future disputes if they lack an exception for certain religious accommodations, he said.
“I will call this chapter two. This is something we will see,” Gilbert said.
To read the full article, click here.