The Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc., decided on June 30, 2014, this July will impact the rights of certain employees to obtain contraception through their employers’ health plans and may have even broader effects if the Court’s decision is applied to other statutes. Read decision: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf
The Affordable Care Act generally requires employers with 50 or more full time employees to offer a certain minimum level of health insurance coverage to their employees. Such insurance coverage includes coverage for FDA-approved contraception. Employers that fail to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act may face heavy fines.
The plaintiffs in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby are family-owned companies who objected to the fact that providing the insurance coverage required by the Affordable Care Act meant providing coverage for contraceptives that the companies’ owners believe might result in the termination of a pregnancy after conception. The owners had religious objections to such contraceptive methods.
The Supreme Court agreed with the owners and decided that the federal government could not require companies to provide insurance coverage for certain contraceptives if providing such coverage violates the “sincerely held religious beliefs” of the companies’ owners.
Although the immediate consequence of the Hobby Lobby decision is that it may become more difficult for certain employees to obtain contraceptives, it remains to be seen of greater concern is whether the Supreme Court’s decision will enable other employers to seek exceptions under other federal laws upon the assertion that compliance with companies to avoid complying with other types of laws – such as laws that prohibit discrimination – on the basis that implementing those laws will violate owners’ “sincerely heldthe religious beliefs.” of the companies’ owners We will have to wait and see.
Spivak Lipton attorneys represent employees on a range of employment related matters, including employee benefits and discrimination. If you have experienced discrimination or a health insurance-related issue in your workplace, contact a Spivak Lipton attorney today.