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Pepperdine Caruso Law Religious Liberty Clinic Amicus Brief Cited by Supreme Court in Groff v. DeJoy

The United States Supreme Court has published a unanimous decision in Groff v. DeJoy, significantly expanding employers’ obligations to accommodate religious practices in the workplace. In the opinion, the justices cited an amicus brief filed in February by Pepperdine Caruso Law’s Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation Religious Liberty Clinic on behalf of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union).

Pepperdine Caruso Law students Isabel Conrath and Jackson Grasz, working under the supervision of Pepperdine professor Eric Rassbach, drafted the brief. Conrath and Grasz collaborated with Michael Helfand, Brendan Mann Foundation Chair in Law and Religion and codirector for the Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law, and Nathan Diament, Executive Director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, the non-partisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, the nation's largest Orthodox Jewish organization.

Groff v. DeJoy is the first Supreme Court opinion that has cited a brief filed by Pepperdine’s Religious Liberty Clinic. “I could not be prouder of the work I get to do in the Religious Liberty Clinic” said Conrath. “Working on this amicus brief to urge the United States Supreme Court to afford religious employees greater protections in the workplace was a tremendous experience.”

“I am thrilled by the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to uphold legal protections for religious employees throughout the United States,” said Grasz. “It was an honor to contribute to the Court’s decision through my work on the Religious Liberty Clinic’s amicus brief. I am grateful for the clinic’s professors, partners, donors, and my fellow students, without whom this work would not have been possible.”

“Contributing to the Court’s ruling that finally provided religious employees with the protections they deserve is testament to all the hard work of the faculty, students and partners engaged in the clinic’s work,” said Helfand.

“This ruling ends decades of second-class treatment of religion in the workplace,” said Rassbach. The case was brought by Gerald Groff, an evangelical Christian employee of the U.S. Postal Service, who celebrated the Sabbath on Sunday. The Court’s ruling clarifies that Title VII requires employers to provide religious accommodations in the workplace, unless doing so would impose a significant hardship or cost on their business. A previous ruling on this matter in the 1977 case TWA v. Hardison had provided a far narrower interpretation of Title VII, which provided far less protection for religious employees.

Excerpt from Groff v. DeJoy, p.13:

Brief for Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America as Amicus Curiae 14–15 (because the “de minimis cost” test “can be satisfied in nearly any circumstance,” “Orthodox Jews once again [are] left at the mercy of their employers’ good graces”)

The complete opinion may be found at Groff v. DeJoy opinion

The full text of the Pepperdine Caruso Law amicus brief may be found at Groff v. DeJoy amicus