A former Lancaster County mail carrier has gone to court alleging the U.S. Postal Service violated his rights by requiring that he work Sundays.
Gerald E. Groff, an evangelical Christian, refrains from all secular work on Sundays because of the fourth commandment to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” according to the lawsuit.
“Just as the Supreme Court recognized in a case involving the right of a Muslim worker to wear a head scarf at a clothing store, a government employer like the Post Office should reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs,” attorney Randall Wenger, chief counsel of Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center, said in a Monday press release [which includes a link to the filing].
Asked about the case Monday, a USPS spokeswoman noted that it was a federal holiday and said it does not generally comment on pending litigation.
Sunday work was not required for Groff's position when he joined USPS in 2012, the lawsuit says, and after Sunday deliveries for Amazon started in 2015, he was able to avoid it — by transferring from Quarryville to Holtwood, which initially wasn’t doing Sunday deliveries, and by agreeing to pick up holiday, evening, and Saturday hours others did not want to work.
But in 2017 the accommodations ended, the lawsuit says, and he was disciplined for not working Sundays, including suspensions of seven and 14 days. He resigned in January 2019, believing it was only a matter of time until he would be fired.
Before the accommodations ended, Groff’s supervisors had scheduled someone else to work Sundays when it would have been his turn, according to the lawsuit. But afterward, on instructions from the district manager for labor relations, he was scheduled to work Sundays, and other employees had to be called in to work at the last minute when Groff didn’t report for his shift, the lawsuit says.
Groff’s lawsuit is seeking reinstatement with accommodation, back pay and unspecified compensation for emotional distress, as well as policies that provide equal employment opportunities for religious observance of Sabbath.
In addition to Independence, he is represented by Blandon-based Cornerstone Law Firm LLC.