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Hobby Lobby’s “Christian Values” Are Lacking When it Comes to Caring for Employees

Hobby Lobby’s “Christian Values” Are Lacking When it Comes to Caring for Employees

The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores have spend a great deal of time, effort and money into presenting themselves as a family-values based company living out their beliefs through their company — all for the benefit of their employees. During the lead up to their Supreme Court case, where they demanded the right to deny full contraceptive and sterilization coverage in their insurance plans on the basis of moral objections, the company cited what they claimed were a number of pro-employee initiatives they put in place, such as their far above minimum wage hourly wages and their Sundays off as a means of creating a more family-friendly environment.

When it comes to actual Christian values, however, the company leaves much to be desired when it comes to treating their employees fairly. Allegations of discrimination are now popping up throughout the chain, and those allegations show a company that isn’t exactly Christlike in their practices.

Meggan Sommerville has been trying for years to get her local Hobby Lobby employer to allow her to use the womens restroom at work, a practice that the affiliate has denied because Meggan was assigned a male gender at birth. Meggan has since transitioned and is legally recognized as a woman in all documentation and insurance, but not when she walks through the business doors. Despite transitioning and being recognized by the companys paperwork as a woman, she was still punished for using a womans restroom at work.

Since then they still have denied me use of the womens restroom, even though my state ID [and] even the health benefits of my own company recognize me as female, Sommerville told Newsweek. Im just looking to be treated equally with every other female in the company—not just in the store, but in the company. If they recognize me as female for certain things, why cant they recognize me as female for everything?

Sommervilles suit against the store has been going on for years, but Felicia Allen also says she faced discrimination, although her lawsuit was quickly dropped due to the companys arbitration policy it allegedly forces employees to sign. By signing such a policy, employees lose the right to sue the company and instead have to work out allegations behind closed doors.

Allen, according to her report, was hired when she was four months pregnant, and was not able to stay on the job long enough to qualify for Family Medical Leave by the time she gave birth. Instead, the company said it would need to fire her, then hire her back on after she was ready to work again, since there was no form of maternity leave available for her. When she tried to return to work three weeks later, however, she was allegedly refused re-employment, and the company fought her when she tried to obtain unemployment benefits as well.

How can you be Christian and lie about something to hinder your employee or dont want them to come back after theyve had their baby? Allen told reporter Sofia Resnick. Or youre taking up for your manager knowing that they had done the wrong thing. I feel like thats not being Christian at all. Thats why I dont even shop there anymore. I used to shop at that store all the time.

Are these just isolated incidents, or a sign of something less benevolently Christian? Former employee Charity Carney told the Prospect in 2013 that the Godly store takes a less than Godly approach when it comes to treating their employees well. Carney told Sarah Posner that the closed on Sundays or shorter daily hours were a facade, and employees were forced to work long hours and even on Sunday to ensure the store was stocked and ready. “Carney’s employment at Hobby Lobby came to an abrupt end when she refused, after working a 12-hour day, to stay into the night to help set up Christmas ornaments,” reports Posner. “The manager ‘basically told me if I left I shouldn’t come back,’ Carney says.”

Carney also told Posner the store had  sexual harassment issues including “employees photographing women’s backsides with their cell phones and laughing about it,” and a “culture of crude talk” that the management chose to ignore. Hobby Lobby responded by saying no formal complaints were ever filed.

As Hobby Lobby continues to present itself as a values-based, good Christian company being forced to compromise its morals due to the Affordable Care Act, these sorts of stories may begin to chip away at their veneer of righteousness. The administration will come up with another way to offer comprehensive contraception coverage to all who are ensured, even those insured by Hobby Lobby. When the business tries again to place itself on the moral high ground, it will be a good time to remind them that they do not practice what they preach.

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Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

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163 comments

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12:50PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014

No longer shop at Hobby Lobby

5:37AM PDT on Aug 13, 2014

Pam
I am pretty sure that that church already exists. Lots of them in fact. Just accept a possession from Jesus and you can do what ever you want, be what ever you want.

11:11AM PDT on Aug 12, 2014

Michael, let's start our OWN church....The Church of I Can Be A Genuine Jerk and Jesus Will Forgive Me.

10:46AM PDT on Aug 9, 2014

@sarah h, I guess that makes you a true christian,

because that's how true christians behave.

I got mine, too bad for you. And I get to use my belief to discriminate against you. My savior teaches me this in the NT. Do unto others, before they do unto you.

My savior tells me this in my head, because of my personal relationship with my savior, that it is okay to stomp down on people whose belief system I don't agree with and make their lives miserable. .

10:38AM PDT on Aug 9, 2014

Marcia V, you are so right. Those flaunting their "Christian values" are rarely following the teachings of Jesus.
Like Senator Marco Rubio (who wants to be POTUS) who wants people fighting for same sex marriage to "show tolerance" to those who are fighting for religious freedom.
When he talks about "religious freedom", he merely mentions other religions and focuses 99.99% of his comments on Christianity. I don't see him telling those people being persecuted for their religious beliefs to "show tolerance" to their persecutors.
To these "Christians", their religion is the only religion and they are the only ones who have any rights.

5:15AM PDT on Aug 9, 2014

It is Hobby Lobby's right not to provide any benefits to employees (which they do! They pay over min wage to start and have health insurance, which pays for 16 of the 20 contraceptives mandated by ObamaCare), it is also the consumer's right not to support any business they don't want to. If we had a Hobby Lobby near us, I would choose to shop there to reward their brave stance!

4:34PM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

You are right John. Those benefits are not a right, and it is Hobby Lobby's right not to provide for their employ's. It is also the right of people not to support hateful companies that want to impose their religion on others when it works for them financially. Hobby Lobby used to get a lot of my money. They won't anymore.

5:39AM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

and who has called it aa RIGHT John??? Of course hobby lobby can cut off all benefits if they want to.. And we can mock them for their hypocrisy. No one said benefits are a right John……thats simply what you wished to hear.

3:46PM PDT on Aug 7, 2014

john h. I can not take a statement from somebody who has to re-post their comments in order to fix their spelling seriously . Maybe next time you could take a deep breath and dial down the hate a bit before you start typing !

3:41PM PDT on Aug 7, 2014

Marcia V. could not agree more with your statement .

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