One case involved Gerald Groff, a former postal clerk who said his religious beliefs required him to take Sundays off.
WASHINGTON. On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider what employers should do to accommodate religious employees, among eight new cases it added.
The cases are expected to be heard in April. In the case of a former postal worker, judges will consider what accommodations employers should provide to religious employees. The case comes as religious plaintiffs generally did well in a court dominated by 6-3 conservative judges.
Under federal civil rights law, employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their religion. The law says that the religious practices of employees must be taken into account unless the employer can show that it is “unreasonable hardship” for the business. Judges are being asked to revisit a 1977 Supreme Court case that challengers say means lower courts almost always side with employers “whenever a compromise imposes any burden.”
The case that the judges agreed to hear concerns Gerald Groff, a former postal clerk in Pennsylvania. Groff, a Christian, said his religious beliefs require him to take Sunday off. Initially, his superiors were able to accommodate him, but this eventually ran out. Groff resigned and sued the Post Office. Two lower courts ruled against him.
Among other cases, the judges agreed to hear:
— The case of Billy Raymond Kunterman, who was accused of stalking a Colorado musician on Facebook by texting her for two years. Counterman claimed that his messages were protected speech, but the court found them to be unprotected “real threats” and he was eventually sentenced to more than four years in prison. The Court of Appeal also ruled against him. The High Court will consider what prosecutors have to produce. prove that the statement is a “real threat”.
— The case of a 94-year-old Minnesota woman who owed property taxes and then had her house confiscated by local authorities.
Hennepin County sold Geraldine Tyler’s home for $40,000 in payment of approximately $15,000 in property taxes, fines, interest, and costs. But the county kept all the money.
Tyler’s lawyers say the practice, a variant of which is used in about a dozen states, violates two constitutional provisions, including excessive fines and forfeiture of property without fair payment.
— The case of the resurrection of lawsuits by whistleblowers alleging that supermarkets and pharmacy chains Supervalu Inc. and Safeway inflated government health programs for prescription drugs by hundreds of millions of dollars.
The judges on Friday also agreed to hear appeals from whistleblowers who allege companies cheated Medicare and Medicaid when they reported retail prices for generic prescription drugs, even though they were mostly sold to customers at heavily discounted prices.
The cases involve companies trying to comply with Walmart’s 2006 decision to offer 30-day supplies of many generic drugs at $4.00.
Supervalu and Safeway matched the reduced price at their pharmacies, but informed the federal and various state governments of the much higher “Regular and Regular” price when claiming a refund.
According to court documents, an expert on the whistleblower in Safeway’s lawsuit testified that the company received $127 million more than it could have received had it reported the reduced price.
In the case against Supervalu, the whistleblower claimed that the company matched Walmart’s cut price by 6.3 million times over 11 years, according to court documents.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed both cases, holding that the companies’ decisions to report higher prices “were not objectively unreasonable.”
Calling on the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeals, Supervalu’s lawyers wrote that the correct price for the message “may seem simple enough to define in the abstract, but it’s nowhere near that simple.”
The Biden administration supports whistleblowers.