Or, Crazy Stuff The Supreme Court Did While I Was On Vacation So there I am in California, land of actual employee rights, when I see the Supremes ruled on a case involving Hobby Lobby. As I'm reading the opinion, I'm thinking maybe I just have vacation brain. I can't be reading this right. Then I look to see what Justice Ginsberg said in the dissent and I realized I wasn't misreading the opinion. Here's what she said about it:
In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Hm. What does this mean? A corporation can have a religion now? Yep. Although this decision was about closely held corporations (think family-owned), the Court didn't limit the decision in any way. They left open the possibility that larger corporations can now find religion. This case was about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which included corporations in the definition of a "person," so maybe it was just a congressional screw-up. The Court said that a company with owners that had a sincerely-held religious belief that life begins at conception didn't have to provide health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Although Justice Alito said in the majority opinion that the government has a compelling interest in providing equal opportunity in the workforce regarding race, he failed to mention, for instance, gender. He certainly didn't mention any compelling interest in preventing sexual orientation discrimination, which may be what this is really about. The Hobby Lobby case didn't address the gender discrimination involved in denying coverage for contraception, but you can bet there will be a case filed against them soon for sex discrimination on this very issue. And the female employees should probably win it. I think there will be quite a few unintended consequences of this decision. Here are some things we don't know:
I guess we'll soon see all of these issues litigated in a courthouse free-for-all that will be terrible for everyone but the lawyers.
See more employment law posts on Donna Ballman's blog, Screw You Guys, I'm Going Home.
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