U.S. Supreme Court
Hobbie v. Unemplt. Appeals Comm'n, 480 U.S. 136 (1987)
Hobbie v. Unemployment Appeals Comm'n of Florida
Argued December 10, 1986
Decided February 26, 1987
480 U.S. 136
APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF FLORIDA,
After 2 1/2 years, appellant informed her employer that she was joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church and that, for religious reasons, she would no longer be able to work at the employer's jewelry store on her Sabbath. When she refused to work scheduled shifts on Friday evenings and Saturdays, she was discharged. She then filed a claim for unemployment compensation, which was denied by a claims examiner for "misconduct connected with [her] work" under the applicable Florida statute, and the Unemployment Appeals Commission (Appeals Commission) affirmed. The Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed the Appeals Commission's order.
Held: Florida's refusal to award unemployment compensation benefits to appellant violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U. S. 398; Thomas v. Review Board of Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 U. S. 707.
(a) When a State denies receipt of a benefit because of conduct mandated by religious belief, thereby putting substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs, that denial must be subjected to strict scrutiny, and can be justified only by proof of a compelling state interest. The Appeals Commission did not seriously contend that its infringement could withstand strict scrutiny, and there is no merit to its contention that justification for the infringement should be determined under the less rigorous standard of demonstrating that the challenged requirement for governmental benefits was a reasonable means of promoting a legitimate public interest. Pp. 480 U. S. 139-146.