The Fifth Circuit confronted similar facts in Cooper v. General Dynamics Convair Aerospace Div.33 In Cooper, Seventh Day Adventists who were non-union members protested on religious grounds the enactment of a union security agreement obligating them to pay agency fees in lieu of union dues. Rather than pay the agency fees, the Adventists paid an amount equal to the required fees into a trust account for the benefit of a non-religious charity and sued under Title VII.
The trial court dismissed the case, saying that the Adventists' beliefs, though religious and sincere, were "specious" and did not require accommodation.34 The Fifth Circuit reversed the lower court's decision, observing that the logic of employees' beliefs, once found religious and sincerely held, are beyond the court's scope of inquiry.35
The court also determined that both employers and unions have a duty to make "reasonable accommodations" to the religious employees' objection to union membership and that both unions and employers could seek to prove that the accommodations demanded by employees created an undue hardship for their organizations.36
It would take the United States Supreme Court to offer some guidance as to the limits of "reasonable accommodation" and what would constitute an "undue hardship."