A Business Can’t Do Whatever It Wants: The Case of Hobby Lobby

Over the holiday weekend I was asked several times what I thought of the Hobby Lobby court ruling. I wasn’t asked this question because I have a brilliant legal mind, strong opinions on contraception or an obsession with yarn; this all brewed up because my college-aged daughter has worked at Hobby Lobby, echoing back to her last semester of high school. Now in her third summer at ole Hob Lob, she’ll start back at college in a few weeks, fully distanced from the brouhaha.

You can read more about the Hobby Lobby decision if you need assistance in falling asleep, but in a nutshell, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that “closely-held” businesses cannot be forced to offer health insurance coverage for birth control methods they equate with abortion. This ruling allows some family-owned or other closely-held businesses to opt out of a federal requirement to pay for contraceptives in health coverage for their workers.

What’s important to our family in regards to our daughter working at Hobby Lobby has nothing to do with any of this controversy. The criteria that fit when she started there a long time ago still holds true today:

  • Safe work environment
  • No late-night hours
  • Closed Sundays
  • She likes arts ‘n crafts (and is really a tremendous help to customers)

So when I was asked about the ruling during recent weekend ballgames and picnics, I conveyed that I am in favor of the ruling. That point of view has absolutely nothing to do with contraception, abortion or anything at all along those lines – it’s strictly a business-based judgment. Hobby Lobby is a private company and they should be able to offer any benefits – or not offer benefits – that fits with their ownership and workforce. However, that’s not to say that a company can do whatever it wants. If a company chooses to induct policies declaring they won’t hire Chinese people, lesbians, wheelchair users, Hindus or men who resemble Abe Vigoda … then I’ve got a big problem with those types of decisions. However, benefits are another matter. If you don’t like the benefits that a privately-held company has or does not have, then don’t work there. Supply and demand, let the market forces dictate, all that good stuff that’s the backbone of our country. This nation is full of family businesses – plenty of choice. Now, on the flip side, I don’t agree with this ruling being applied to publicly-held companies. Those companies are owned by thousands of shareholders and need to represent the broad scope of people’s needs. Across the board, public companies agree to adhere to a different set of rules, policies and regulations than those of family businesses. Private ownership is a completely different set of circumstances.

Choices-300x183Without question, public accounting firm clients are inquiring about these issues and everyone needs to be prepared with answers, just like when the Affordable Care Act entered the rear view mirror. There’s always something in the works, playing right into the hand of expertise that’s possessed by top-notch trusted business advisors, today’s accounting professional.



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