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July 12th, 2023- Federal Law Alert

Supreme Court Reinterprets Undue Hardship Standard for Religious Accommodations

As you’re probably 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.

Legal Disclaimer: On-Time Payroll is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this post should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. OTP cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.


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