The U.S. Supreme Court recently denied certiorari in the matter of Small v. Memphis Light, Gas & Water, a case which effectively challenged the continued viability of a 1997 decision (Trans World Airlines v. Hardison) which interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Hardison interpreted the statutory requirement that employers “reasonably accommodate” an employee’s religious practices so long as the accommodation does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business. Congress did not define “undue hardship,” but the court did, holding that undue hardship was anything that imposed “more than a de minimis cost” on the employer.
Justice Byron White wrote the majority decision in Hardison and held that to require employers to allow employees to have Saturdays off would amount to religious favoritism. Dissenting, Justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan were of the view that the majority decision wrongfully required members of certain minorities to “surrender their religion or their job.”