The Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby established that closely-held corporations can both hold and exert religious beliefs. In Burwell, the Court ruled 5-4 that Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties, and any other closely held corporations could be exempted from provisions regarding contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act, due to the companies’ beliefs, despite filings by the contraceptive manufactures whose products were in question, that some of the contraceptives covered caused abortions.
Legal experts say that under the decision, about 90 percent of American corporations could be considered “closely held.”
Although contraceptive coverage in West Virginia is protected by state law, those laws are now threatened as more than 70 cases similar to Burwell are pending in West Virginia courts. If any one of them prevails, laws protecting employee’s contraceptive coverage could be at risk of being declared unconstitutional.
West Virginia equality advocates fear the bill’s implication on the rights of LGBT individuals, who already have no protections in the workplace under West Virginia employment laws. In West Virginia it’s legal for an employer to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
At the state capitol, a Religious Freedom Restoration Act was introduced in January 2014, placing an individual’s religious freedom above the “burden of government.” So far, there has been no movement on the bill since being introduced.
If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.
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