Attorney General Paxton filed a multistate amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court, led by West Virginia and Louisiana, to protect the religious liberties of workers across America. Prior to joining this merits-stage brief, Paxton filed a cert-stage brief in the same case. The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision in this case, which is centered around a postal worker wanting to observe the Sabbath, could have far-reaching implications beyond the case itself.
In Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964, Congress declared that workers could not be discriminated against based on their religion and that employers must accommodate employees’ religious observance or practice unless it causes “undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.” But in 1977, the Supreme Court erroneously expanded this definition of “undue hardship” to mean any accommodation that requires “more than a de minimis cost.” In practice this meant that employees had little to no recourse or ability to exercise their First Amendment rights if employers could demonstrate even the most trivial cost.
For decades, this precedent has gone unchallenged and workers have suffered. This case thus presents the U.S. Supreme Court with the opportunity to correct course, restore the full protections outlined in Title VII, and further safeguard the religious freedom of employees.
The brief states: “Few would quibble with the idea that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark law—one of the most significant pieces of legislation of our time. And in it, Congress barred workplace discrimination based on, among other things, ‘religion.’ Congress thus insisted that employees don’t need to shed their religious identity when they go to work. They shouldn’t be punished for bringing that identity to life through religious practice, either. . . . Unfortunately, five decades ago this Court effectively nullified Title VII’s broad protection for religious exercise by making it far too easy for employers to avoid their statutory obligations.”
To read the full amicus brief, click here.