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Must Employers Accommodate Shabbat Observance? That’s Up to the Supreme Court

How far must employers go to accommodate religious employees in the workplace? 
Sam LaRussa/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Sam LaRussa/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Dr. Michael (Avi) Helfand is a Senior Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He is currently the Brenden Mann Foundation Chair in Law and Religion and Co-Director of the Nootbaar Institute for Law, Religion and Ethics at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law as well as Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor at Yale Law School. Avi received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his Ph.D. in Political Science

“How far must employers go to accommodate religious employees in the workplace?

This is the question the U.S. Supreme Court debated in its latest blockbuster church-state case. The answer is likely to have a significant impact on American Jews and other religious minorities who require accommodation of their religious practices, such as Sabbath observance.

Current Supreme Court precedent does not require employers to accommodate their employees’ religious practices if doing so imposes an “undue hardship,” which the courts have interpreted very broadly. But recently, a broad consensus has emerged supporting the expansion of workplace protections, making it one of the few church-state questions that has united Jewish institutions across the political and religious spectrums.

While oral arguments last week largely reflected this broad consensus, it remains unclear how far the court will go in requiring employers to accommodate religious employees.”

Read the full article in the Forward

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