Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Pin It
Feed Feed

Jul 30, 201411:01 AMForward HR

with Diane Hamilton and Nilesh Patel

Will more federal laws be tested in wake of Hobby Lobby decision?

(page 2 of 2)

Justice Ginsburg points out that the potential harm from the court’s decision extends beyond women and contraceptives. There are other religious objections businesses can raise. In previous cases, a restaurant refused to serve African Americans because of a religious objection to racial integration, a health club religiously objected to hiring someone who was homosexual or living with a person of the opposite sex, and a photography studio refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s ceremony. The court’s decision opens up the litigation gates for such objections to be raised again under RFRA.

RFRA’s stature as a super-statute, able to trump other existing and future federal laws and regulations, means there will be many opportunities for religious employers to object and to test the limits of RFRA’s reach. For instance, it is possible an employer may raise a religious objection to a single or a married but homosexual employee taking Family Medical Leave to adopt a child. An employer could object if an employee needs time off or needs medical coverage for an abortion that is medically necessary. The court’s precedent opens the door to such scenarios and to the litigation needed to resolve them. During litigation, employers may also be able to use RFRA as an affirmative defense to defeat employees’ discrimination claims.

Now it will now be up to Congress to rein in RFRA’s reach or to let the Supreme Court’s decision stand. Legislators are already considering a legislative fix. However, I believe it is a limited one. A proposed bill, which has already been blocked, talks about restoring women’s rights to contraceptive care. Even if that bill becomes law, it does not fully negate the precedent set by the case, because the bill does not contradict the ruling that for-profit corporations can practice religion.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.

Add your comment:
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Pin It
Feed Feed
Edit Module

About This Blog

 Diane Hamilton, PCC, SPHR, is the owner and founder of Calibra, a coaching and consulting firm focused on maximizing leadership potential. Nilesh Patel is the principal attorney of the Mahadev Law Group, LLC, which focuses on human resources and employment law issues for organizations. He can be reached at Both bloggers are members of Wisconsin SHRM, which is dedicated to being the state leader in HR management and the premier source for HR expertise and resources. More information can be found at You can follow the WI SHRM blog at



Atom Feed Subscribe to the Forward HR Feed »

Recent Posts

Edit Module