Frazee v. Illinois Department of Employment Security

PETITIONER: William A. Frazee
RESPONDENT: Illinois Dept. of Employment Security; Sally Ward, Director of the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security; Bruce W. Barnes, Chairman of the Board of Review; Kelly Services
LOCATION: Unemployment Insurance Office

DOCKET NO.: 87-1945
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 489 US 829 (1989)
ARGUED: Mar 01, 1989
DECIDED: Mar 29, 1989

ADVOCATES:
David A. French - on behalf of the Appellant
Robert J. Ruiz - on behalf of the Appellee

Facts of the case

William A. Frazee was laid off from his job with the state of Illinois. Kelly Services, a temp agency, offered him a job at a department store working Wednesday through Sunday. Frazee “as a Christian” refused to work Sundays. The store did not give Frazee the job. Frazee did not claim that he was part of a particular religious sect or church or that working on Sundays violated a tenant of an established religious body. When Frazee applied for unemployment benefits, the Illinois Department of Employment Security denied his claim because he turned down a job offer. The Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit of Illinois affirmed. The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed, holding that the free exercise clause does not require accommodations for “personal professed religious belief[s]”.

Question

Must a person who declines to work on Sunday because of a sincerely-held religious conviction prove that his conviction is a tenet of an established religious sect or body in order to claim the protection of the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion?

Media for Frazee v. Illinois Department of Employment Security

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 01, 1989 in Frazee v. Illinois Department of Employment Security

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 29, 1989 in Frazee v. Illinois Department of Employment Security

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 87-1945, Frazee versus Illinois Department of Employment Security will be announced by Justice White.

Byron R. White:

This case is here from the Appellate Court of Illinois Third District.

And for the reasons stated in a unanimous opinion on file with the Clerk, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court and remand for further proceedings.