Brief Fact Summary. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) held that South Carolina may not constitutionally apply the eligibility provisions of its unemployment compensation scheme in order to deny unemployment benefits to a Seventh-Day Adventist because she refused to work on Saturday.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A state may not constitutionally apply the eligibility provisions of its unemployment compensation scheme so as to constrain a worker to abandon her religious convictions respecting the day of rest.
Facts. The Appellant, Sherbert (Appellant), a Seventh-Day Adventist was denied unemployment benefits by South Carolina because she refused to work on Saturdays. Specifically, her claim for unemployment benefits was denied because the state compensation law barred benefits to workers who failed, without good cause, to accept “suitable work when offered.” She refused to take a job that required her to work Saturdays. The highest state court sustained the denial of benefits.
Issue. Whether the disqualification for benefits imposes any burden on the free exercise of Appellant’s religion?
Whether some compelling state interest justifies the substantial infringement of Appellant’s First Amendment constitutional right?