With two delivery drivers suing over schedules, Sabbatarian Christians find their observance increasingly countercultural in a 24/7 economy.
Mailboxes used to go empty on Sundays.
Not anymore. America’s biggest retailer, Amazon, ships seven days a week, and as the site expands Sunday delivery across the country, more drivers are losing what would have been a steady day off.
For many, the shift just means their break will fall during the week. But for some Christians on the job, the new delivery option conflicts with Sunday church services and their conviction not to work on the Sabbath.
Amazon’s seven-days-a-week schedule has already led to two lawsuits from drivers who were fired for not working on Sundays. Both claimed religious discrimination under Title VII, alleging their employer had not provided “reasonable accommodation” for them to work other days.
In a case in Florida, a Sabbatarian Christian lost his job working for a delivery service contracted by Amazon, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched a lawsuit on his behalf. Last week he secured a $50,000 settlement, and his former company, Tampa Bay Delivery Services, will undergo religious sensitivity training.
For a postal worker in Pennsylvania, though, the case is making its way through the Third Circuit Court of Appeals after a district court ruled last year in favor of the US Postal Service.
Gerald Groff is an evangelical Christian who began working as a rural mail carrier in 2012, a part-time role rotating through holiday and weekend routes based on demand.
After the station he was working for began contracting with Amazon for Sunday delivery, he transferred to another rural station. When that one also started Sunday routes, he tried to adjust his schedule and swap days but ended up missing 24 Sundays of work in 2017 and 2018, before being let go in 2019.