New Standard for Religious Accommodations under Title VII

The United States Supreme Court recently adopted a new “undue hardship” standard for employers considering an employee’s religious accommodation request under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In Groff v. DeJoy, 143 S. Ct. 2279 (2023), the Court determined that the United States Postal Service failed to make reasonable accommodations for an employee who requested not to work on Sundays for his Sabbath practice.  The Court held that an employer, before denying a religious accommodation, must show that granting the accommodation would cause substantial increased costs for the business.  The Court’s decision reversed decades of precedent in which employers could establish undue hardship by showing that granting an employee’s request would be more than a de minimis business cost.

In applying the new standard to the Postal Service’s denial of the employee’s Sabbath accommodation request, the Court determined that an employer cannot simply conclude that forcing other employees to work overtime to accommodate the request is an undue hardship.  The Court discussed that employers must consider other options, such as shift swapping, administrative costs of coordinating shift coverage, and the cost of incentive pay as part of a cumulative “substantial increased cost” analysis.

If you have questions or concerns regarding how the new standard may apply to your Title VII policies and religious accommodation requests, please contact Richard Davis, Matt Paxton, or Aaron Haynes of our Employment and Labor Law Practice Group at, and or (360) 671-1796