Client Alert

U.S. Supreme Court changes the religious accommodation standard / Employment 


 By: Angel Berberena, Esq.

Edgardo Rodriguez, Esq.

June 30, 2023


On June 29, 2023, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Groff v. DeJoy, 600 U.S. ___ (2023), to “clarify” and change the religious accommodation standard on which employers have relied for almost five decades. Since 1977, courts, agencies, and employers have used the test for “undue hardship” established in Trans World Airlines v. Hardison, 432 U.S. 63 (1977), which excuses an employer from accommodating an employee’s religious belief or practice if the accommodation would require the employer to bear more than a de minimis cost


Following Hardison, the Third Circuit found the de minimis cost standard was met in Groff v. DeJoy, concluding that exempting the plaintiff from Sunday work due to religious reasons had “imposed on his coworkers, disrupted the workplace and workflow, and diminished employee morale.” However, the Supreme Court vacated the Third Circuit based on its new interpretation of Hardison. Specifically, the Supreme Court set forth that it now understands Hardison to mean that “undue hardship” is shown when a burden is substantial in the overall context of an employer’s business. Accordingly, the Supreme Court unanimously held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers 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, showing more than a de minimis cost will no longer suffice to establish “undue hardship” under Title VII to deny accommodation.


Based on this new standard, the Supreme Court further clarified that Title VII requires an assessment of a possible accommodation’s effect on the conduct of the employer’s business. After Groff v. DeJoy, responding to an accommodation request such as Groff’s (excepting an Evangelical Christian employee from Sunday work), employers can no longer deny religious accommodation based on a conclusion that forcing other employees to work overtime would constitute an undue hardship. Employers should consider that not all impacts on coworkers would be deemed relevant, but only coworker impacts that go on to “affect the conduct of the business.” 

Goldman Antonetti & Córdova, LLC stands ready to assist you and your business to adjust to Puerto Rico's regulatory and legal changes. If you need further assistance in this area, please contact any of the following members of our Firm:

Angel Berberena

[email protected]


Howard Pravda

[email protected]


Gabriel Quintero

[email protected]


Edgardo Rodríguez

[email protected]


Luis Antonetti

[email protected]


Vicente Antonetti

[email protected]


Luis D. Ortiz Abreu

[email protected]


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