Start typing and press Enter to search

Supreme Court Reinterprets Undue Hardship Standard for Religious Accommodations

Supreme Court Reinterprets Undue Hardship Standard for Religious Accommodations

As you may be aware, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires that employers with 15 or more employees make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious practices and beliefs, so long as it doesn’t cause an undue hardship.

Previously, undue hardship—as it applied to religious accommodations—meant “more than a de minimis cost.” The Supreme Court has now reinterpreted undue hardship in this context to mean “a substantial increased cost in relation to the conduct of [the employer’s] particular business.”

While the term substantial isn’t defined, the Court said employers should consider the requested accommodation and its practical impact relative to the nature, size, and operating costs of their business. Note that even under the old de minimis standard, the EEOC indicated in the federal regulations that undue hardship wasn’t likely to be caused by temporary costs, voluntary or occasional shift swapping, or administrative costs.

The bottom line is that this new interpretation will make it more difficult for employers to deny religious accommodations on the basis of undue hardship. As a result, you should plan to grant most requests unless you’re certain you can show substantially increased costs.

Reply a Comment



This blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, and cannot constitute legal advice, because the authors are not licensed attorneys. Readers should not rely or act upon any information presented on this blog without seeking professional legal counsel. The views expressed in each post are those of the author, and the author alone; they are not the views of Ahola. The information provided in this blog is general, and based on information available as of the date of publishing. Information herein is provided on an “as is” or “as available” basis; we make no warranty of any kind to you regarding the information provided and disclaim any liability for damages from use of the blog or its content. Please consult an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular question or issue.