WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear the employment discrimination claim of an evangelical Christian mail carrier in a case that could force employers to do more to accommodate their workers’ religious practices.

The judges will hear an appeal filed by Gerald Groffwho says the US Postal Service could have granted his request that he not have Sunday shifts based on his religious belief that it is a day of worship and rest.

Groff has asked the court to make it easier for employees to file religious claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace in a variety of ways, including on the basis of religion.

Groff worked as a mail carrier in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area from 2012 to 2019, when he resigned. As a non-career employee, his job was to fill in when other workers were not available, including weekends and holidays.

At first they did not ask him to work on Sundays, but the situation began to change in 2015 due to the requirement that Amazon packages be delivered that day. Based on his accommodation request, Groff’s managers arranged for other postal workers to deliver packages on Sundays through July 2018. After that, Groff faced disciplinary action if he didn’t show up for work.

Upon resigning, he sued the Postal Service for not honoring his request. A federal judge said the Postal Service had provided a reasonable accommodation and that offering anything more than that would cause undue hardship for his employer and his co-workers. The Philadelphia-based US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed in a May 2022 ruling.

Groff is asking judges to reassess what constitutes «undue hardship» under Title VII, saying the approach imposed by a 1977 Supreme Court ruling called Trans World Airlines v. Hardison is not pro-employee enough and allows religious needs to be supplanted by employer interests. In the earlier ruling, the court said that employers are not required to make accommodations if doing so would impose even a minimal burden.

The court in 2020, when it had a 5-4 conservative majority, refused to hear a similar case involving a Walgreens call center employee who, as a Seventh-day Adventist, requested not to work on Saturday, which is the day of rest for that Christian denomination.

However, three of the conservative justices issued a declaration at the time they said they were open to the idea of ​​revising the 1977 ruling’s definition of «undue hardship.» Shortly after that case was thrown out, liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and then-President Donald Trump appointed the judge. conservative Amy Coney Barrett, creating a 6-3 conservative majority even more favorable to religious claims.

After Barrett joined the court, the justices in 2021 rejected several cases asking them to review the 1977 ruling, but the court has ruled in favor of religious claims in several other cases, including several in its last term, which ended in June. Among those rulings, the court found in favor of a public high school football coach who claimed he lost his job after leading prayers on the field after games.