The slide down the slippery slope has begun and was signaled by the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that allows profit-earning corporations religious exemptions from provisions of the Affordable Care Act they find offensive to their religious beliefs. But the blow to employee rights in Missouri and elsewhere is far more severe than was immediately apparent.
As the majority of justices ruled, these religious exemptions now allow employers to deny their female employees coverage for fertility treatments, types of contraceptives and possibly other medical treatments. However, the language is so enormously broad that it expands the Religious Freedom Restoration Act permitting religious exemptions on a singular basis over federal laws protecting the rights of workers.
This scenario could conceivably unfold in companies across America. Employees who manage their health by taking expensive antiviral medications to control HIV could suddenly have their employer’s insurance policy refuse to cover their life-sustaining drugs.
Justice Ginsburg described possible situations where, dependent upon the religious whims of the corporate owners, employees could be refused coverage for antidepressants, blood transfusions, vaccinations or even medicines made from swine by-products.
One constitutional law expert has concerns that the law’s broad interpretations could be interpreted to allow small businesses to insist on traditional gender roles for employees and allow discrimination against female workers who could be denied promotions and compensated on a lower pay scale.
The full breadth and scope of the ruling and its ramifications have yet to be revealed. There are sure to be far-reaching effects that workers in Kansas City will experience before all the dust is settled. Questions regarding the new ruling can be addressed by a legal professional who handles employment law cases.
Source: Inc., “After Hobby Lobby, Many Fear a Slippery Slope Imperiling Employees’ Rights” Jeremy Quittner, Jul. 02, 2014