Supreme Court Case Could Seriously Harm LGBTQ Community
The Supreme Court will hear a religious expression case that could have serious adverse outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community.
The case, Groff v. DeJoy, involves Gerald Groff, a former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) worker who wanted an exemption from working on Sundays due to his religious beliefs.
"Observing the Sabbath day is critical to many faiths a day ordained by God," said Randall Wenger, chief counsel at the Independence Law Center, the religious conservative legal firm representing Groff. "No one should be forced to violate the Sabbath to hold a job."
Federal law and legal precedent require employers to "reasonably accommodate" their workers' religious practices in such a way as to inflict as little "undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business" as possible, Vox explains.
The Supreme Court's current 6-to-3 conservative majority has already willfully forced decisions that seemed to go against prior decisions. In a 2022 ruling in favor of a football coach whose allegedly "private" and "quiet" prayers involved him regularly pressuring other team members to pray in the locker room and the 50-yard line.
Should the Court rule in Groff's favor, it could open a litany of lawsuits. Judges would have to determine what reasonable religious accommodations look like on a case-by-case basis.
How could those circle around and adversely affect the LGBTQ community? It could quite easily result in employees refusing to serve LGBTQ+ patrons. Religious bosses could also refuse to hire any Transgender or Non-Binary applicants or those whose identities and behaviors seem incompatible with the boss's religion.
Suppose the court's decision is in Groff's favor. In that case, it could create an undue hardship on a company's other staff members in the absence of an employee exercising his religious beliefs for not working Sunday.
Groff worked in a post office with only three employees. The USPS delivers Amazon packages on Sunday, and Groff's co-workers were forced to cover for his absence.
In a 2014 court decision, the chain Hobby Lobby won the right to refuse to cover employees' contraceptives and reproductive healthcare, arguing that such coverage went against the owner's Christian beliefs about sex.
Focusing on the case of Groff v. DeJoy, individual supervisors working in large corporations could begin requesting the right to exempt employees from LGBTQ+-related healthcare and familial benefits or non-discrimination protections. If a company's leadership refuses, they could find themselves dragged into Court. Most U.S. courts now have Republican-appointed judges who are likely to rule in favor of religious people.