ABCs of employment law: Sunday Religious accommodation Another general council! A world’s convention! Evangelical alliance, and universal creed!”

The Following post has been adapted to shed light on the implications the steps advocated for and the religious liberty breaching as consequence. We shall use coloured boxes and words to correct the error advocated.

A day of great intellectual darkness has been shown to be favorable to the success of the papacy. It will yet be demonstrated that a day of great intellectual light is equally favorable for its success. In past ages, when men were without God’s word and without the knowledge of the truth, their eyes were blindfolded, and thousands were ensnared, not seeing the net spread for their feet. In this generation there are many whose eyes become dazzled by the glare of human speculations, “science falsely so called;” they discern not the net, and walk into it as readily as if blindfolded. God designed that man’s intellectual powers should be held as a gift from his Maker and should be employed in the service of truth and righteousness; but when pride and ambition are cherished, and men exalt their own theories above the word of God, then intelligence can accomplish greater harm than ignorance. Thus the false science of the present day, which undermines faith in the Bible, will prove as successful in preparing the way for the acceptance of the papacy, with its pleasing forms, as did the withholding of knowledge in opening the way for its aggrandizement in the Dark Ages. GC 572.3

Blog Employment and Labor Insider

Robin Shea

USA April 15 2022

Second post in our series.

NOTE FROM ROBIN: Last month, I posted the first in what will be a series of very basic explanations of the federal laws that govern the workplace.

I could not resist having religious accommodation as my topic this time. We are in an intensely religious time of year. Passover starts today, and it’s also Good Friday for most Christians. Ramadan started on April 2 and will run through May 2. Easter Sunday will be day after tomorrow for most Christians (or a week from Sunday for Eastern Orthodox Christians).

Subsequent posts will get into other areas of employment law, including retaliation, disability accommodation, harassment, and wage-hour. If there is a topic that you’d like to see covered, please send me an email or leave a comment here.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, color, and religion. As we discussed last time, “discrimination” means treating someone differently (less favorably) because of one or more of these characteristics.

Very straightforward, right? All an employer has to do is treat everybody exactly the same way and there should be no problem?

And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?Judges:2:2

Treating everybody the same — equally — is indeed a good start. But sometimes, treating everybody exactly the same isn’t fair. Sometimes doing the right thing requires us to treat people differently. Parents know this. In the employment context, that obligation to treat people differently is known as “reasonable accommodation.”

Title VII in its original form prohibited religious discrimination but didn’t require religious accommodation. But in 1970, a federal appeals court found in favor of an employer who fired an employee for refusing to work on Sunday because of his religious beliefs. According to the court, the employer didn’t discriminate because it made all its employees work on Sundays when needed. In other words, the employer treated the employee with the religious need the same way it treated everyone else.

And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them.Esther:3:8

The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which split 50-50 on the issue, meaning that the lower court decision was left in place. About a year later, Congress amended Title VII to add a religious accommodation obligation.

Thus all can proclaim the third angel’s message with heart and voice.
By the Lord’s appointment, all the evil that is countenanced and vindicated by a nation—all the injustice and oppression practiced against God’s people for the truth’s sake, all the devices made to hinder and oppress them—will return upon themselves. Mark God’s dealings with nations, as recorded in His Word. Selfishness and oppression practiced by one nation on another has always brought the sure result. That oppression which they have made others to suffer has come upon the oppressors themselves. One part of the nation rises up against the other part, and God allows that nation to destroy itself.
The most cruel despotism has been practiced by men against his fellow man, even in 1897. Those who have allowed officers to rule and govern by despotic power have created a spirit of retaliation, and this will react upon those who have caused pain and suffering to their fellow men. Those who for many years have been breaking down the commandments of God, trample God’s law under their unholy feet, are being educated to despise everything like human law and restraint. Sin and violence and crime have created a condition of lawlessness that causes iniquity to abound.
Men who claim to be preaching the gospel of Christ teach that the law of God is not valid. The strive to make it void, and teach the churches the law of God, the foundation of His government in heaven and in earth, was crucified with Christ. A more fatal error could not be brought into existence. The curse of God, pronounced upon the transgressor of His law, will rebound upon those who have ventured to do wickedly. The eternal justice of God is working with an unseen power, bringing about events which, were men half intelligent in regard to the Word of God, they would recognize.
The transgressors of the fourth commandment have made the Sabbath to fit their own maxims and teachings. They declare that the first day of the week is the Sabbath, and are now making wonderful restrictions to show their reverence for a day that is but a common working day and has not one thread of sanctity in it. The observance of this day originated with the Catholic church, which has set aside the day that God gave to the world as a memorial of creation, and which defines who its Author is—the living God, who created the world in six days, who rested on the seventh day, and who sanctified and blessed the day of His rest.
The Protestant world has taken this child of papacy, and cherished it, and called it Christ’s day—the Christian Sabbath. But it is a spurious sabbath, an idol, placed where the Lord’s day should be. And, like Cain, the transgressor is exceedingly angry because the whole world does not regard it with the sacredness of the Sabbath of the Lord.
God’s people must awake 12LtMs, Ms 163, 1897, par. 10 – 12LtMs, Ms 163, 1897, par. 16

As a result of the amendment, if an employee has a religious belief or practice that conflicts with a job requirement, the employer must at least try to accommodate the employee unless doing so would be an “undue hardship” for the employer. An “undue hardship” in this context would be anything more than a “de minimis” (insignificant) difficulty or expense. The employer has the burden of proving undue hardship in court.

When deciding whether to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, the employer should ask itself three questions:

1) Is the employee’s belief or practice “religious” in nature? 

The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.John:19:7……Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience. An example of this is given in the long-continued persecution of dissenters by the Church of England. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of nonconformist ministers were forced to flee from their churches, and many, both of pastors and people, were subjected to fine, imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom.
It was apostasy that led the early church to seek the aid of the civil government, and this prepared the way for the development of the papacy—the beast. Said Paul: “There” shall “come a falling away, … and that man of sin be revealed.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3. So apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast. GC 443.3 – GC 443.4

If no, there is no duty to make reasonable accommodations. This came up a lot last year with COVID-19 vaccines, as I wrote about here and here. If an employee objected to the vaccines because of fear for his health, or for political reasons, then there would be no right to religious accommodation. On the other hand, if the employee believed it would be a sin to get the vaccine, then the employer would proceed to Question 2.

Charles Beecher, in a sermon in the year 1846, declared that the ministry of “the evangelical Protestant denominations” is “not only formed all the way up under a tremendous pressure of merely human fear, but they live, and move, and breathe in a state of things radically corrupt, and appealing every hour to every baser element of their nature to hush up the truth, and bow the knee to the power of apostasy. Was not this the way things went with Rome? Are we not living her life over again? And what do we see just ahead? Another general council! A world’s convention! Evangelical alliance, and universal creed!”—Sermon on “The Bible a Sufficient Creed,” delivered at Fort Wayne, Indiana, Feb. 22, 1846. When this shall be gained, then, in the effort to secure complete uniformity, it will be only a step to the resort to force. GC 444.3

2) Is the employee’s religious belief sincerely held?

And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?Matthew:21:23

 Employers are supposed to give the employee the benefit of the doubt on this point, but there are situations in which the employee’s belief is clearly not sincere. Think about someone who has been given Sunday mornings off to go to church and is caught hanging out at the neighborhood bar. Not sincere, and the employer is done. But if the belief is or appears to be sincere, proceed to Question 3.

If the reader would understand the agencies to be employed in the soon-coming contest, he has but to trace the record of the means which Rome employed for the same object in ages past. If he would know how papists and Protestants united will deal with those who reject their dogmas, let him see the spirit which Rome manifested toward the Sabbath and its defenders.
Royal edicts, general councils, and church ordinances sustained by secular power were the steps by which the pagan festival attained its position of honor in the Christian world. The first public measure enforcing Sunday observance was the law enacted by Constantine. (A.D. 321; see Appendix note for page 53.) This edict required townspeople to rest on “the venerable day of the sun,” but permitted countrymen to continue their agricultural pursuits. Though virtually a heathen statute, it was enforced by the emperor after his nominal acceptance of Christianity.
The royal mandate not proving a sufficient substitute for divine authority, Eusebius, a bishop who sought the favor of princes, and who was the special friend and flatterer of Constantine, advanced the claim that Christ had transferred the Sabbath to Sunday. Not a single testimony of the Scriptures was produced in proof of the new doctrine. Eusebius himself unwittingly acknowledges its falsity and points to the real authors of the change. “All things,” he says, “whatever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s Day.”—Robert Cox, Sabbath Laws and Sabbath Duties, page 538. But the Sunday argument, groundless as it was, served to embolden men in trampling upon the Sabbath of the Lord. All who desired to be honored by the world accepted the popular festival.
As the papacy became firmly established, the work of Sunday exaltation was continued. For a time the people engaged in agricultural labor when not attending church, and the seventh day was still regarded as the Sabbath. But steadily a change was effected. Those in holy office were forbidden to pass judgment in any civil controversy on the Sunday. Soon after, all persons, of whatever rank, were commanded to refrain from common labor on pain of a fine for freemen and stripes in the case of servants. Later it was decreed that rich men should be punished with the loss of half of their estates; and finally, that if still obstinate they should be made slaves. The lower classes were to suffer perpetual banishment. GC 573.2 – GC 574.3

3) Would accommodation involve more than a minimal expense or disruption for the employer? In other words, would it be an “undue hardship” to accommodate? If no, then accommodate. If yes, then don’t.

Now that you’re an expert, take a crack at this one (answers/commentary at the end):


A Religious Accommodation Story

Laura had nearly completed the work schedule for Easter weekend. She was expecting her bistro to do some great business. Friday and Saturday nights were always busy. And she and her sous chef had come up with a lovely Sunday brunch. Salt-cured country ham. Bunny-shaped omelets with green olives for eyes, sliced carrots for noses, and pancetta matchsticks for whiskers. Homemade bread with embedded Easter eggs. Fruit salad with a killer Greek yogurt and mint dressing. And of course plenty of coffee, and artisanal Bloody Marys and Mimosas.

But she needed an employee to decorate the eggs to go in the bread on Sunday morning. Fifteen of her 20 employees1 — kitchen staff, wait staff, and dishwashers — were already on the schedule. Only five employees were not yet scheduled: Abe, Jason, Joseph, Larry, and Mohammed. Any of them could do a fine job decorating the eggs.

Laura immediately ruled out Joseph. He was a devout Catholic, and had taken the afternoon off to go to the Good Friday service at his church. He’d be going to Mass on Sunday morning for sure. She decided to start with Mohammed.

“Mohammed, can you work on Sunday? I need someone to decorate eggs to go in the brunch bread.”

“I’d rather not,” replied Mohammed. “During Ramadan we have to fast from dawn to dusk. A morning shift would be really tough because I’d have to smell that food when I can’t have any.2 (And so much pork!) But I’d be glad to work tonight or Saturday night.”

“OK, I’ll take you up on that. Let me try someone else for Sunday.”

Wasn’t Jason an atheist?3 He’d be perfect!

“Hey, Jason, I’m going to put you on the schedule for Sunday morning. I need someone to decorate eggs to go in the bread for Sunday brunch.”

“I’d be glad to, Laura, even though I don’t believe in all that Easter hocus pocus. But don’t you remember? You gave me this weekend off so my girlfriend and I could go to the beach. After you told me I could go, I made a non-refundable prepaid reservation, so I can’t reschedule.”

“I’m sorry. You’re right, I forgot. Don’t worry about it. I’ll find someone else.”

Darn! Well, there was still Abe, who was Jewish. In fact, he was getting ready to leave for the day because Laura always let him off for the Sabbath.

“Hey, Abe. I’m gonna need for you to come in on Sunday morning to decorate the eggs to go in the Easter bread.”

“I’ll have to say no, Laura. With all due respect, it violates my religious beliefs to actively participate in a Christian holiday.”4

“Don’t worry about it, Abe. I won’t make you work this Sunday.”

“Thanks, Laura. You’re all right. See you tomorrow.”

OK. That left Larry. Laura had put him off as long as she could because Larry had his own religion, “Larryism,” with a set of rules that applied to no one but him. He was a good guy, but Laura dreaded talking to him when there was a possibility that religion would come up.

“Hi, Larry. I need for you to come in on Sunday morning to decorate eggs to go with our Easter bread.”

“Oh, Laura, you know I’d do anything for you, but this Sunday is The Day of the Holy Howling Coati. It is a sacred day in Larryism, and servile work is strictly forbidden.”5

“Come on, Larry! I’m desperate! You’re gonna have to work unless I get a note from your pastor.”6

“But, Laura, you know that Larryism does not recognize fallible human pastors. There is no one I could ask for a note.”

What was she going to do? It was already 6 p.m.

Just then, the door opened, and in walked Joseph. “Hi, all. Laura, why so glum?”

“I can’t get anyone to decorate the eggs to go in the bread for Easter brunch!”

“That’s too bad. I’d like to help you, but I’m driving up to Baltimore on Sunday to see the Orioles.”

“The Orioles?”

“Yeah. My frat buddy and I decided to give it a shot . . . we’ll see if we can get in.”

“You don’t have tickets?”

“Nah. But I don’t think they’ll be sold out. We figure if we hit the road by 7 a.m., we’ll be there in time for the first pitch.”

“But it’s Easter, and you’re Catholic. Aren’t you required to go to Mass?”

“Geez, you sound like my mother. No, I’d rather go to the ball game.”

“Weren’t you at church this afternoon for Good Friday?”

“Well, yeah, but only because my mom wanted me to take her. But she’s going to be at my aunt’s this weekend, so I’m off the hook for Sunday.”

Laura thought for a minute. No religious concern, no non-refundable tickets . . .

“Joseph, I have some bad news for you.”7

To view all formatting for this article (eg, tables, footnotes), please access the original here.

Constangy Brooks Smith & Prophete LLP – Robin Shea



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