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Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) –– The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday in favor of a Christian ex-postal worker alleging religious discrimination for being disciplined for refusing to work Sundays, vacating a lower court opinion against the worker and ordering the case to be reconsidered in light of its explanation of the relevant law.

Groff v. DeJoy concerns Gerald Groff, a former U.S. Postal Service carrier and evangelical Christian who was disciplined for refusing to work on Sundays as part of USPS’s expansion to making Amazon deliveries, then sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to grant him a religious accommodation, which he argued could have been done without undue hardship.

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with USPS, determining that Groff’s refusal to work on Sundays “imposed on his coworkers, disrupted the workplace and workflow, and diminished employee morale.”

In Thursday’s 9-0 ruling, however, the nation’s highest court determined that Title VII “requires an employer that denies a religious accommodation to show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.” Therefore, it vacated the Third Circuit’s decision and remanded the case back to the lower courts to reconsider “context-specific application” of the Title VII standard in light of the Court’s clarification.

“We think it is enough to say that an employer must show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business,” conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “An employer who fails to provide an accommodation has a defense only if the hardship is ‘undue,’ and a hardship that is attributable to employee animosity to a particular religion, to religion in general, or to the very notion of accommodating religious practice cannot be considered ‘undue.’”

“Federal law protects employees’ ability to live and work according to their religious beliefs. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious practice unless doing so imposes undue hardships on their operations,” responded Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “For too long, that duty had been erased by a misguided court ruling. Thankfully, the Supreme Court clarified Trans World Airlines v. Hardison and affirmed that Title VII requires employers to grant religious accommodations in the absence of substantial additional costs in relation to the business. And coworker dislike of religious beliefs or practices is ‘off the table’ for consideration when making that assessment. This standard protects all Americans’ right to live and work in a manner consistent with their faith.”

The Supreme Court, whose Republican-appointed majority has delivered mixed results from a conservative perspective, also delivered conservatives a long-awaited victory Thursday in striking down race-based affirmative action in college admissions. A decision on whether a Christian web designer may be forced to serve same-sex “weddings” is also expected to be handed down in the near future, potentially as soon as Friday.