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Season 4, Episode 139

U.S. Supreme Court rules on religious accommodations at work



Guest Name:

Joyce Goldstein

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Joyce Goldstein, labor lawyer with Joyce Goldstein and Associates, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning religious accommodations for a United States Postal Service employee. Goldstein then talked about the impact of the decision and what it could mean for the labor movement.

Speaking on the recent decision by the Supreme Court in Groff v DeJoy to overturn a lower court ruling, Goldstein explained what led to the high court’s decision. She explained how the case focused on USPS, which did not accommodate an employee's religious belief to not work on Sundays. The former employee claimed that it was the obligation of USPS to accommodate his religious beliefs. However, the employer claimed the accommodation would create undue hardship for other employees.

The lower courts sided with the employer and ruled that it would have caused undue hardship on the operation of the business. The decision by the Supreme Court to overturn this ruling will force the lower courts to determine if the accommodation would have caused “significant” undue hardship to the employer. Goldstein pointed out that the hardship includes not only any financial hardship but also any hardships to the other workers. This decision could cause a ripple effect on the labor movement, where any strikes could potentially be considered a hardship on non-union workers and potentially workers in other parts of the supply chain. 

In Goldstein’s early days of practicing labor law, she argued a similar case. However, she represented a worker who had to work extra Sundays and was denied a religious exemption. The employer, in this case, had negotiated into the Collective Bargaining Agreement that employees would work on Sundays on a rotating schedule. After a worker claimed a religious accommodation was needed, the employer granted it. The courts determined in that case that the employer had no right to make the accommodation as it would cause undue hardship to the other workers. With this history of a similar case, it was no surprise to Goldstein how each court made its decision. 

Listen to the entire episode to learn more.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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