News & Commentary

April 24, 2023

Morgan Sperry

Morgan Sperry is a student at Harvard Law School and also serves as OnLabor's Social Media Director.

In today’s News and Commentary, the Supreme Court is reconsidering how Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects religious practice in the workplace, and after a month of labor disruptions the German government has agreed to increase pay for 2.5 million public-sector workers.

Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Groff v. DeJoy, a case that contemplates how Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects workers’ individual religious practice in the workplace. Plaintiff Gerald Groff is an evangelical Christian who quit his job with the U.S. Postal Service after they began requiring him to deliver Amazon packages on Sundays, the day of the Christian Sabbath. As Andrew Strom wrote for the blog last month, under current doctrine Title VII requires employers to accommodate the religious beliefs of workers unless the accommodation would impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business, meaning more than a de minimis cost on the employer. At oral argument, Groff’s legal team asserted that the Supreme Court should import into this context the definition of “undue hardship” from the Americans with Disabilities Act, in which Congress defined “undue hardship” to mean “requiring significant difficulty or expense.” 

Airport security workers in Germany are walking out today, halting all departures from the Berlin Airport as their union negotiates pay and working conditions. This comes after the union reached an agreement with the German government on Saturday night to increase pay for 2.5 million public-sector workers, thereby avoiding a nationwide strike. Saturday’s agreement followed a month of negotiations marked by walkouts in the transport, hospital, and other public service sectors, including a 24-hour-long public transport strike at the end of last month. The agreement includes tax-free one-time payments totaling €3,000 and increased monthly pay for all public-sector workers beginning in March 2024—with a guaranteed minimum raise of €340 per month. The deal will run through the end of 2024 and responds to workers’ struggle with Germany’s high inflation rate, which stood at 7.4% in March.

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