On Tuesday April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case “Groff vs. DeJoy.” This case could have serious implications for the seniority and other rights of postal workers.
Mr. Groff was a Rural Carrier Relief employee who refused to work on Sundays based on his religious beliefs. He left the USPS and claimed that his legal rights to reasonable accommodation on religious grounds were denied under Title VII.
The question of reasonable accommodation for religious reasons is already settled law based on EEOC guidance and previous Supreme Court rulings. The law has proven to be balanced on this issue, especially on the priority of collectively bargained scheduling rules. For more information on reasonable accommodation, see this Department of Labor guidance here.
“The APWU fully upholds employee’s rights regarding reasonable accommodation for religious and other reasons and the union supports the existing laws” shared APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “However, if the Supreme Court negates the existing laws and rules it could negatively impact the rights of others, including our negotiated seniority and bidding rights and work scheduling. This is why the AFL-CIO, the other postal unions and the APWU all weighed in in this case with ‘amicus briefs’ in support of the Postal Service.”
Imagine the havoc in the workplace if any employee can dictate their own days off and if the Supreme Court negates the scheduling rules in our National Agreement. We know that in the Postal Service claiming Sundays (or any day considered ones sabbath) as an automatic day off would mean other employees, including more senior employees, would be forced to work. There would be less weekend bids, more forced overtime and mandatory holiday scheduling. It would discriminate against employees who have earned a weekend day off that they can use for religious or family or personal reasons without request and without having to justify how they use their time. Preferred days off are gained through the fair and equal process of seniority and bidding which the Supreme Court seems poised to throw out.
A ruling on the case is expected this summer.