Supreme Court expands workers' religious protections: What hospitals should know

All employees may request accommodations, including time off from work, when an employer's schedule interferes with the worker's religious beliefs and practices, the Supreme Court ruled June 29. 

The court "broadened religious protections for workers" in its June 29 opinion and clarified when employers, including hospitals, are permitted to refuse employee-requested religious accommodations.

The previous legal standard required that employers demonstrate the minimal cost of making an accommodation for a worker's religious observance.

The latest decision puts a higher burden on employers who want to deny an employee's request based on religious observance. The court said employers must "show that the burden of granting an accommodation" has "substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business" in order to refuse an employee's request, the court said.

"The unanimous opinion, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., found that employers must show that granting such an accommodation would lead to 'substantial increased costs' in relation to the conduct of its business," according to a June 29 Roll Call news report. 

Employers must "reasonably accommodate" a worker's religious practices, "not merely … assess the reasonableness of a particular possible accommodation or accommodations," Mr. Alito wrote. "This distinction matters. … it would not be enough for an employer to conclude that forcing other employees to work overtime would constitute an undue hardship. Consideration of other options, such as voluntary shift swapping, would also be necessary."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars