WND: Postal worker refused accommodation by employer to not work on Sabbath, fired



WND reported the following:

Postal worker refused accommodation by employer to not work on Sabbath, fired

July 30, 2021

Gerald E. Groff … had started working at the Quarryville Post Office in Lancaster County in 2012, and was a Rural Carrier Associate.

He asked for a religious accommodation to observe Sunday Sabbath and it was granted.

“But when a conflict later arose between Groff’s duties as a mail carrier for USPS and his observance of the Sunday Sabbath, USPS offered only proposals that would still require Groff to work on Sundays and thereby violate his conscience,” First Liberty explained.

Groff sued after he was dismissed, and the district court claimed it was not necessary for a “reasonable accommodation” to eliminate the conflict causing the problem. …

The problem arose when the USPS, under a special agreement with Amazon, ordered its employees to start working on Sundays to make those deliveries. …

“USPS signed a contract to deliver packages for Amazon.com … including on Sundays. As an evangelical Christian within the Protestant tradition, Groff observed Sunday as the Sabbath. Groff sincerely believes he is obligated to refrain from work on the Sunday Sabbath, including his USPS work responsibilities,” the appeal explains.

While the scheduling options gave the managers great flexibility, “Quarryville Postmaster Wright informed … him that he would need to work on Sundays for find another job.”

Groff then transferred to a different station which was not involved in Sunday deliveries, but shortly later, that process was launched yet again. https://www.wnd.com/2021/07/postal-worker-refused-accommodation-not-work-sabbath-fired/

The dismissal, according to other aspects of the above article, is being appealed in the courts.

While Sunday is not the biblical Sabbath (see The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad), it certainly is not right to tell someone that they will not have to violate their religious convictions when they are hired, and then change the rules. That is wrong on several different levels.

Year ago, CG7-Denver’s Bible Advocate magazine had the following article by Dr. Daniel Botkin:

“I’d like to keep the Sabbath, but I can’t. I have to work on Saturdays.”

Wrong. No one who believes in keeping the Sabbath has to work on Saturdays, at least not in America. Americans who work on the Sabbath do so by their own choice, not because they have to.

Sabbathkeeping Christians in Communist Russia were ordered by their oppressive government to work on Saturdays. Many of them chose to obey God rather than man, and they lost a lot more than some crummy job. They suffered imprisonment,exile, and torture for refusing to break God’s holy Sabbath. When we stand with these faithful saints before the Lord on Judgment Day, will any of us have the gall to say, “Well, Lord, I wanted to keep the Sabbath, but I couldn’t. I had to work”?

Informing your employer

How does a disciple of the Messiah go about getting every Sabbath off from his job?

First, you do not go in and ask your employer if you can have Saturdays off. You are not there to make a request; you are there to inform. You inform your employer (politely and respectfully, of course) that you will not be available to work from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Your employer may respond in a number of ways:

“I’ll see what we can do, but for now you’ll have to keep working Saturdays.”

“We can give you Saturdays off, but you’ll have to work on Friday nights.”

“We’ll try, but you may have to occasionally come in on a Saturday if we’re short of help.”

None of these responses is acceptable. Pharaoh tried three times to persuade Moses and Aaron to compromise the Lord’s demands (Exodus 8:25-29; 10:8-11). Moses and Aaron steadfastly refused to accept Pharaoh’s solution, and we must likewise refuse to accept an employer’s offer to compromise.

If your employer refuses to accommodate you, one solution is to look for a different job. However, that may not be necessary. If this particular job is important to you, you may want to inform your employer of his legal obligation toward employees’ religious practices. This should be done politely and respectfully, not in an obnoxious or threatening way.

What the law says

Many people do not realize that federal law requires employers to accommodate employees who need time off for religious reasons, unless the employer demonstrates that accommodation would result in undue hardship on the conduct of its business. You, the employee, do not have to prove the validity of your case. It is the employer who must prove that letting you keep Sabbath would cause undue hardship to his business. The burden of proof is on the employer, not on the employee.

Federal law considers the following solutions to be “reasonable accommodation” that would not cause undue hardship to an employer’s business:

• Securing a substitute worker (even if the employer has to secure the substitute).

• Flexible scheduling (flexible arrival and departure times, floating or optional holidays, flexible work-breaks, use of lunch time in exchange for early departure, staggered work hours, permitting an employee to make up time lost due to the observance of religious practices).

• Lateral transfer and change of job assignment.

The employer must offer the alternative that least disadvantages the individual (i.e., the employee) with respect to his or her employment opportunities. The employer can also be required to bear the extra costs of accommodating the employee, unless the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determines that it is “more than a de minimis cost.”

Sometimes an employer is afraid to give an employee every Saturday off for fear that other employees will see this and likewise demand every Saturday (or Sunday) off for religious reasons. However, according to federal law, this is not proof of undue hardship: “A mere assumption that many more people, with the same religious practices as the person being accommodated, may also need accommodation is not evidence of undue hardship.” The above legal information can be found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (sections 701[j], 703, and 717, eeoc.gov) and in Part XII Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Religion.

These laws apply to labor organizations as well as to employers. The laws pertain not only to scheduling (though this is the most frequent accommodation needed) but also to other religious practices, such as a man’s right to wear a beard because of his religious convictions. The employer’s legal obligation to accommodate “pertains to prospective employees as well as current employees.”

Sabbathkeepers need to know that employees have legal rights to reasonable accommodations and that some employees take their employers to court to enforce these rights. Sometimes the employer wins the case, when it truly would cause undue hardship for the employer to accommodate the employee.

When undue hardship is not an issue, though, the law is on our side. Most employers are reasonable people and intelligent enough to know that it would be wiser for them to accommodate your need than it would be to refuse. Many employers will respect you for taking a firm but polite stand for what you believe. If they are smart, they will know that a person with strong convictions is likely to be a reliable, honest worker with integrity and will find a way to accommodate you.

Other options

Some employers are not so kind and understanding and will simply say, “No, you have to work on Saturdays.” In that case, you must pray and ask the Lord to show you what He would have you to do.

Would the Lord have you take your employer to court, or would He have you look for a different job? (You don’t need to pray about whether or not the Lord would have you keep working on the Sabbath. He’s already told you in the Ten Commandments not to do that!) Fighting for your legal rights in court is one issue, but there is also the issue of maintaining a good testimony as the Messiah’s disciple. Some questions to consider:

• Do I really want to work for an employer who lets me have the Sabbath off only because he was forced by the court to do so?

• Will going to court result in resentment or jealousy in my workplace, and do I want to work in such an atmosphere?

• Is this job really worth fighting for?

• Is it possible that letting me have every Sabbath off really would cause undue hardship for my employer’s business?

• Even if the court rules in my favor, would there still be some hardship, and would it be right to let my employer bear this inconvenience?

Keeping your job should be your third priority here. Keeping the Sabbath and your testimony are top priorities. If you can do this and keep your job, great. Personally, I would not feel comfortable forcing my employer to pay extra costs in order to accommodate me, even though the law can require the employer to bear these minimal costs. For the sake of my testimony as the Lord’s disciple, I would prefer to not exercise this legal right and pay the extra costs myself, unless my employer cheerfully insisted on bearing the cost.

If my employer is willing to bear some minor inconvenience in order to accommodate me, then I should be willing to bear some minor inconvenience to keep the Sabbath. Every situation is unique and has many factors to consider. If you do lose your job for the sake of obeying the Lord, the Lord will honor your sacrifice. He may not provide another job immediately, but He has promised to meet your physical needs if you seek His kingdom first (Matthew 6:33).

True identity

So don’t let your employer or anyone else tell you that you have to work on the Sabbath. You are not called to be a slave to your job. You are to treat your employer with honor and respect, but he is not your Owner and Master.

If you are a disciple of the Son of God, then He is your real Owner and Master. You are called to be a servant in His kingdom, not a slave to the world system.

While laws vary in differing locations, as do interpretations of laws, most of the time in the USA (if unions are not involved) it is possible to keep a job and the Sabbath when there is a conflict. However, this does not mean that one will not have other problems or be somehow discriminated against in other ways. A past case in New Zealand protected a Sabbath keeper there (see NZ man awarded cash because of Sabbath-related termination).

I personally was nearly jailed (while working for the government) and threatened with job loss throughout my earlier careers, because I kept the Sabbath. As it turned out I was not jailed nor fired, but there still is a risk for many.

Jesus taught that real Christians would face trials (Luke 22:28) and persecutions (John 15:20).

What about working to handle a seasonal surge or other such need? Here is what the Bible says about that:

21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. (Exodus 34:21)

So, no, the ‘busy season’ at work does not negate the Sabbath.

Aren’t you suppose to respect authority?

Yes, but there are limits:

26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:26-32)

While the apostles accepted the authority of being arrested, they did not conclude that they needed to violate God’s laws. Notice also that the Apostle Peter declared that the Holy Spirit of God is given to those who obey Him–not to those who obey humans above God.

When scripture says to obey in all things, this is not a license to bear false witness for an employer, murder for an employer, or violate the Sabbath for an employer.

But yes, employers and others may judge:

18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)

But true Christians obey God–even if it does not look like humans will allow that. Consider also the following:

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:13-18)

It takes faith to keep the Sabbath when your job or livelihood (Exodus 34:21) seems to be at risk. But the Bible teaches that we are to obey God rather than men (Acts 5;29).

In the case of Gerald E. Groff, here are some points related to his hoped for appeal:

“It is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of religion,” said Hiram Sasser, of First Liberty. “The USPS should have recognized Gerald’s sincerely held belief that he must observe the Sunday Sabbath and granted him a religious exemption. We must protect the rights of every American to practice their faith without fear of losing their job.” …

the appeal explains, “Title VII required USPS to provide Groff a reasonable accommodation for his observance of the Sunday Sabbath, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on USPS. In holding that a reasonable accommodation need not eliminate the conflict between work and religion, the district court embraced the wrong side of a circuit split that this court has not yet considered. Properly understood, Title VII requires that an accommodation eliminate the conflict between work and religion. This conclusion flows from the plain meaning of the word ‘accommodate,’ which conveys the need for effectiveness. A proposed ‘accommodation’ that leaves the religious conflict festering is no accommodation at all.” https://www.wnd.com/2021/07/postal-worker-refused-accommodation-not-work-sabbath-fired/

Anyway, we will see how the appeal goes.

But, as the USA becomes more and more secular, judges, employers, and others have become less tolerant for religious rights.

This will not end well for the USA.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

Can You Keep Your Job, Get Your Degree, and Keep the Sabbath? This article has some information on that. Here is a link to a related video titled: Can you keep the Sabbath and your job? What about college?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath Did Ignatius write against the Sabbath and for Sunday? What about the Didache? What does the actual Greek reveal? Are there intentional mistranlations? A related sermon is available: The Didache, Ignatius, and the Lord’s Way.
The Christian Sabbath. This is a series of articles from the Catholic Mirror essentially proving that the biblical Sabbath was Saturday, that the Lord’s day in Revelation 1 is not a reference to Sunday, that the Church of Rome implemented Sunday, and that nearly all Protestants followed Rome.
Early Sabbath Keeping in North America When did Europeans first keep the Sabbath in North America? Did the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower keep Saturday or Sunday?
How to Observe the Sabbath How should you keep the Sabbath? This is an old article by Raymond Cole, with updated information for the 21st century.
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true? Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 一个不合理的神?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday? What relevance is the first or the “eighth” day? A related sermon is also available: Sunday: First and Eighth Day?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences.

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