Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Libs boycott organic food company that doesn’t cover birth control

http://twitter.com/#!/lizzwinstead/status/485408634751709185

Organic food company Eden Foods doesn’t want to provide contraceptive coverage for its 150 employees. Via Grist.org:

In Eden Foods Inc. v. Kathleen Sebelius, filed in federal court in March of 2013, the company claimed its religious freedom was being violated by the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employee health insurance cover birth control. The suit argued that “contraception or abortifacients … almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices.” In October, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided against Eden Foods, ruling that a for-profit company cannot exercise religion.

But then, on June 30, the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that family-owned, “closely held” companies can use religion as an excuse to flout the birth control mandate. Eden Foods is one of a few dozen “closely held” for-profit companies that have filed suit over the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. On July 1, the Supreme Court ordered the 6th Circuit Court to reconsider its decision against Eden Foods and another plaintiff with a similar case.

The company’s attorneys at Thomas More Law Center released a statement about the case on Wednesday following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling:

For years, Michael Potter, a Roman Catholic, President and sole shareholder of Eden Foods Corporation, for religious reasons, had arranged for the Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance coverage he designed for his employees to specifically exclude coverage for contraception and abortifacients.  In accordance with his Catholic faith, Potter believes that any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or means”—including abortifacients and contraception—is wrong.

The HHS Mandate forced Potter to make a choice between violating a foremost tenet of his faith or face fines up to $4.5 million per year.

Potter brought the lawsuit because he cannot compartmentalize his faith and his business practices.

Eden Foods itself tweeted a link to this statement:

Clinton, Michigan – Eden Foods is a principled food company. We were convinced that actions of the federal government were illegal, and so filed a formal objection. The recent Supreme Court decision confirms, at least in part, that we were correct. We realized in making our objection that it would give rise to grotesque mischaracterizations and fallacious arguments. We did not fully anticipate the degree of maliciousness and corruption that would visit us. Nevertheless, we believe we did what we should have.

The objection we filed has never been part of the Hobby Lobby lawsuit.

Naturally, the Sandra Fluke brigade says it will no longer buy Eden Foods’ products:

http://twitter.com/#!/a_aardvark/status/485068452269678592
http://twitter.com/#!/JillFilipovic/status/484726572742479873
http://twitter.com/#!/clarepolitan/status/484452751074930688
http://twitter.com/#!/ScorpionJL/status/483996696578625536
http://twitter.com/#!/iridelikeagirl/status/483667844735856640
http://twitter.com/#!/srjones66/status/484136638075772928
http://twitter.com/#!/madest/status/484826103748374528

Regardless of one’s views about the morality of contraception, why shouldn’t a company be allowed to configure its health benefits however it wishes? Perhaps it is time for a conservative “buycott”!

http://twitter.com/#!/highside2020/status/485071443781115905

 

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2014/07/06/libs-urge-boycott-of-organic-food-company-that-doesnt-cover-its-employees-birth-control/

Headscarf Case Cements The Abercrombie “Look” In Legal History

Under former CEO Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch developed a hyper-specific look for its customers and its employees. That look has now stumbled its way into the Supreme Court.

Samantha Elauf (center) her mother Majda Elauf (left), and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission General Counsel David Lopes leave Supreme Court Wednesday. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Abercrombie’s famously stringent “Look Policy” for sales associates–which specified everything from the maximum acceptable number of earrings (2) to the maximum length of fingernails (1/4 inch)–was discussed by the nation’s highest court today.

This, of course, has a significance all of its own: It means Abercrombie’s hyper-specific, borderline absurd dress code, enforced by former CEO Mike Jeffries, has been cemented in U.S. legal history for as long as this nation stands.

It also contributed to a more narrow debate in the Supreme Court, related to the company’s decision not to hire a 17-year-old Muslim woman in 2008, after determining her headscarf failed to comply with its look policy. Samantha Elauf, who scored well enough otherwise to be hired as a “model” at an Abercrombie kids store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was told her hijab precluded her from getting the job, as it was against policy for models to don headwear.

A snapshot from Abercrombie’s 2013 “Hairstyle Sketchbook” Obtained by BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission won an initial religious discrimination suit against Abercrombie that was filed on Elauf’s behalf, but another court reversed the ruling in 2012, saying a job applicant “must present the employer with explicit details sufficient to give it ‘particularized, actual knowledge’ before an employer need consider accommodating the applicant’s religious practices.’

That court said it doesn’t matter if a company has more knowledge than an applicant about how its rules might conflict with their religious practices. In other words, they said Abercrombie can’t be held liable for failing to accommodate Elauf’s headscarf, as it wasn’t the retailer’s responsibility to ask about it and her ability to comply with the look policy. Instead, the court said, it was Elauf’s fault for never informing Abercrombie that she wore her hijab for religious reasons and thus needed an accommodation. The Supreme Court listened to arguments today about whether the burden of asking for such a religious exemption falls on an employee or the employer.

Abercrombie argued that employers should not be forced to stereotype applicants as requiring religious exemptions and that Elauf should have figured out her hijab might violate the Look Policy and brought it up prior to the hiring decision. The EEOC contended that applicants are at a big informational disadvantage regarding a potential employer’s policies and that if a problem is sensed, it’s a company’s responsibility to start a dialogue.

“If she had told him, this is for religious belief and I need an accommodation from the Look Policy, at that point, under the statute, there would be a duty to accommodate,” Shay Dvoretzky, the lawyer arguing on behalf of Abercrombie, said today. “What we want to avoid is a rule that leads employers, in order to avoid liability, to start stereotyping about whether they think, guess or suspect.”

“The point is to initiate the dialogue,” Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn said, arguing on behalf of the EEOC. “Had that happened here, then we would be talking about a different point in the process about whether there was a reasonable accommodation that could be done and whether it could be done without undue hardship. But that dialogue never happened here, and that is the problem with the case as we see it.”

“This is what makes this a very important case…unlike employees, who are in a position to go back and forth with their employer and understand the work rules, applicants are at a serious informational disadvantage,” Gershengorn said. “They don’t know the work rules. And in this case, it is undisputed that (Elauf) did not.”

The justices exhibited their knowledge of 2008-era Abercrombie and its preppy fashions and ban on the color black while asking about the circumstances under which an employer can reasonably consider the possibility of a religious exemption.

Justice Alito outlined a situation in which four people show up for a job interview at Abercrombie — a Sikh man in a turban, a Hasidic man in a hat, a Muslim woman in a hijab and a Catholic nun in a habit. (He noted that he realized this would sound like the start of a joke, to laughter in the courtroom.)

“Do…those people have to say, ‘We just want to tell you, we’re dressed this way for a religious reason, we’re not just trying to make a fashion statement’?” Alito asked.

“One can certainly imagine cases in which it is more obvious than others that a particular garb is likely worn for religious purposes,” Dvoretzky responded. “There are some circumstances in which it is certainly more likely than others, but the question before the Court is to devise a rule that’s going to apply across the board..”

Abercrombie argued that it would treat any applicant with a head covering similarly, whether it was a hijab, a baseball cap or a yarmulke, and that the company is entitled to make style judgments in job interviews that result in hiring decisions. That argument didn’t fly over so well, however.

“If I walked into an Abercrombie interview wearing a suit, presumably Abercrombie could tell me, ‘When you come to work, please don’t wear the suit, please wear our clothes,'” Dvoretzky said “But it would also be equally rational for Abercrombie to say, you know, if this person is coming in wearing a suit, that’s not compatible with our style. And likewise for the headscarf.. (The district manager’s) testimony…is that he would have taken the same action for somebody who came into an interview wearing a headscarf, a baseball cap, a helmet or another religious symbol.”

Chief Justice Roberts shot back: “That doesn’t work in a case like this. It’s not a question, are you treating everybody the same. You have an obligation to accommodate people with particular religious practice or beliefs, so to keep constantly saying, ‘Oh, we would have treated somebody with a baseball cap the same way,’ doesn’t seem to me is very responsive.”

Justice Kagan noted that stereotyping in order to ask a job applicant about religious accommodation, based on a hijab or other indicator, is better than cutting them out altogether.

“You’re essentially saying that the problem with the rule is that it requires Abercrombie to engage in what might be thought of as an awkward conversation, to ask some questions,” Justice Kagan said. “But the alternative to that rule is a rule where Abercrombie just gets to say, ‘We’re going to stereotype people and prevent them from getting jobs. We’ll never have the awkward conversation because we’re just going to cut these people out and make sure that they never become Abercrombie employees.'”

The court is expected to issue a decision in the case by the end of June.

An Abercrombie spokesperson emphasized in an e-mailed statement today that the company “consistent with the law, has granted numerous religious accommodations when requested, including hijabs.” A more recent copy of the company’s look policy, obtained by BuzzFeed News and included below, supports that.

“The narrow issue before the Supreme Court is whether an employee who wants a religious accommodation must ask for one, or whether employers are obligated to guess and speculate about an employee’s religion to ascertain the need for religious accommodation,” the spokesperson said.

Abercrombie, the hottest teen retailer in the late 90s and early 2000s, has been struggling in recent years, losing sales and shuttering stores. Jeffries, the company’s modern-day founder who ran the company since 1992, was ousted in December. The executive was famously specific about dress codes in Abercrombie stores, and even had a 40-plus page manual specifying the appropriate behavior for staff on the company’s corporate jet.

The company says its stores now have more than 50% non-white staff today, up from less than 10% in 2004.

Obtained by BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

Obtained by BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

From the Supreme Court’s website:

Supreme Court / Via supremecourt.gov

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/sapna/abercrombie-headscarf-case

‘Heap pissed off’! Elizabeth Warren ‘can’t believe’ Hobby Lobby outcome

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a sad today, you guys:

All those tears and nervous sweat could fill the Big Sea Water ten times over!

Snort.

Maybe she would’ve read it if it’d been written in Cherokee …

Why? We sure as hell didn’t!

***

Related:

Supreme Court sides with Hobby Lobby in landmark religious freedom case

‘Fu*k you:’ Left-wingers want to ‘burn down’ Hobby Lobby after SCOTUS win

‘POW’! How’s Obama taking the Hobby Lobby news? Bobby Jindal can picture it now; Update: Nailed it?

‘Clueless or lying’: Sandra Fluke ‘purposefully ignoring’ fact in Hobby Lobby decision

Twitchy coverage of Elizabeth Warren

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2014/06/30/heap-pissed-off-elizabeth-lie-awatha-warren-cant-believe-hobby-lobby-outcome/