The Hobby Lobby Decision: What Does It Mean for Employers?

Bender's Labor & Employment Bulletin September 2014

David W. Garland, Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the firm's New York and Newark offices, Adam C. Solander, Associate in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, in the Washington, DC, office, and Brandon C. Ge, Associate in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, in the firm's Washington, DC, office, authored an article titled “The Hobby Lobby Decision: What Does It Mean for Employers?” that was published in Bender’s Labor & Employment Bulletin.

Following is an excerpt (see below for a PDF of the full article):

On the last day of June, the United States Supreme Court decided Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., holding in a 5–4 decision that a closely held forprofit corporation may refuse to provide contraceptive coverage to employees if it sincerely objects on religious grounds. The impact of this case has been a topic of much debate. Because the Court rested its decision on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (‘‘RFRA’’) and not constitutional grounds, Congress could conceivably overrule the decision by amending the Affordable Care Act (‘‘ACA’’) or enacting an exemption to RFRA. It seems unlikely, however, that both the House and Senate would pass such a bill, especially in a Congressional election year, and bills introduced in response to Hobby Lobby have already hit snags. Some, including Justice Ginsburg in her dissent, have argued that the decision has farreaching consequences and opens up the floodgates for corporations to claim exemptions, on religious grounds, to a bevy of laws to which they object. Meanwhile, others have argued that the case’s impact will be much more limited, as the holding itself directly applies only to closely held corporations and enforcement of the contraceptive mandate. The real answer likely lies in the middle.