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Workplace Religious Accommodation Post-Groff: Heightened Undue Hardship Standard for Employers

Reviewing Accommodation Requests; Demonstrating Substantial Increased Costs; Defending Discrimination Claims

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Recorded event now available

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This CLE webinar will address the recent U.S. Supreme Court's Groff v. DeJoy decision which heightens the standard for employers to demonstrate that an employee's religious accommodation request poses an undue hardship on the company, thereby making it more difficult for companies and their counsel to use this defense. The panel will discuss the new "substantial increased costs" standard and its impact on employers and describe best practices for mitigating the risk of a discrimination claim and preparing to defend such claims.


In its recent Groff v. DeJoy decision, the U.S. Supreme Court heightened the standard for employers to demonstrate that a religious accommodation request was denied because it posed an undue hardship on the company. For over 40 years, the courts used the "de minimis cost" standard first articulated in TWA v. Hardison as the governing standard to determine "undue hardship." However, in Groff, the Court found that the "de minimis cost" standard did not provide the type of protection intended by Title VII, so it created the "substantial increased costs" standard.

The new standard requires an employer to show that "the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business." The new standard requires the courts to conduct a fact-specific inquiry by looking at "all relevant factors in the case at hand, including the particular accommodations at issue and their practical impact in light of the nature, size and operating cost of an employer."

The Groff decision and the associated publicity surrounding it limits employers' use of the "undue hardship" defense, and has already increased religious accommodation requests from employees. Employers and their counsel should prepare with policies, training, and a process to address these accommodation requests to avoid discrimination and retaliation claims.

Listen as our expert panel discusses the new undue hardship standard, employer considerations when deciding whether to grant religious accommodation requests and best practices to mitigate risk and limit liability.



  1. Overview of religious accommodation pre-Groff
    1. Title VII
    2. TWA v. Hardison (de minimis cost standard)
    3. EEOC guidance
  2. Groff v. DeJoy
    1. Clarifying Hardison
    2. New "substantial increased costs" standard
    3. EEOC effect
  3. Employer best practices to mitigate risk
    1. Policy and procedure review
    2. Management training
    3. Other considerations
  4. Preparing for and defending a discrimination claim
    1. How to demonstrate "substantial increased costs"
    2. What to expect from the EEOC and courts moving forward


The panel will review these and other important issues:

  • How does the new "substantial increased costs" standard differ from the "de minimis cost" standard?
  • What considerations should be made by counsel and their clients when deciding whether to grant an employee's religious accommodation request?
  • What are best practices for addressing and documenting employee requests, evaluating "undue hardship," and defending against discrimination and retaliation claims?
  • What can counsel and their clients expect from the EEOC and courts moving forward?


Barna, Jennifer
Jennifer Stefanick Barna

Senior Counsel
Epstein Becker & Green

Ms. Barna’s practice focuses on civil litigation and corporate counseling in the areas of employment law and...  |  Read More

Harty, Frank
Frank Harty

Nyemaster Goode

Mr. Harty regularly represents companies, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher learning in day-to-day...  |  Read More

Zweig, Jay
Jay A. Zweig

Ballard Spahr

Mr. Zweig has 25 years of experience practicing employment law and commercial litigation. He assists employers with...  |  Read More

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