Hobby Lobby Alleged to Have Fired Woman for Wanting Time Off to Give Birth

Hobby Lobby, a craft supply store, has been all over the news recently for its stances on pregnancy. Earlier this year, in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Hobby Lobby was able to convince the United States Supreme Court that it, a corporation, was capable of having religious beliefs, and that due to the company's religious beliefs, it should not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, Hobby Lobby did not want to, and is now not required to, provide insurance to its employees that covers certain types of contraception. Now, the anti-contraception company has been accused of taking a seemingly contradictory stance -- it is accused of firing a woman for requesting time off to give birth, which of course is what happens when one does not use contraception.

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(Photo Credit: Carlos Porto/freedigitalphotos.net)

No Time Off to Give Birth for Hobby Lobby Employee

Salon reported recently that a woman named Felicia Allen told RH Reality Check that she was fired for asking for time off to give birth. Ms. Allen started working at Hobby Lobby in 2010 as a part-time checker. Shortly after she started work, she learned she was pregnant. Since she was only going to be working at Hobby Lobby for five months before she gave birth, she was not going to be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees new mothers time off for giving birth, so long as they have been employed for six months. So Ms. Allen spoke with her supervisor, and her supervisor assured her that she would not lose her job and that she would be able to come back to work after giving birth.

When she gave birth, she was fired. She tried going back to work three weeks after the baby was born, and was not allowed to return. Then, to add insult to injury, Hobby Lobby fought Ms. Allen when she sought unemployment benefits. Allen says the company challenged her unemployment claim by arguing that she could have taken “personal leave” but opted not to do so. Ultimately, Allen won her claim for unemployment benefits.

Employee Must Arbitrate

Further, Allen cannot sue in court, but must go to arbitration as she signed an arbitration agreement. This is a type of agreement that strips employees of their rights to sue in court. What happens is the company requires the employee to sign the agreement in order to work for the company. Then, if the employee ever wants to sue the company, he or she is prevented from suing in court because of the agreement. Rather than having the dispute decided in open court by a judge and jury, these disputes are decided by a private arbitrator, in secrecy. So while Hobby Lobby got to have its big win at the Supreme Court, Ms. Allen will not get her day in any court.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you know someone who has been fired for her pregnancy or who has signed an arbitration agreement, only to regret it later? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

18 Comments

  1. 18 Vane 24 Aug
    Truly dissapointed on the artcle. I feel proud American companies and Christians in general are taking a stand to defend their religious beliefs. That speaks greatly of the company and its leaders! Lets stop trashing people for doing the right thing. Payscale should hire an editor...
  2. 17 Someguy 22 Aug
    Smear campaign by a turd journalist. Hobby Lobby is a business. The employee was likely a shit employee and the reason they took the opportunity to get ride of her.
  3. 16 Dan 22 Aug
    So much for "family values."
  4. 15 Josh 21 Aug
    Only eligible employees are entitled to take FMLA leave. An eligible employee is one who: • Works for a covered employer; • Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months; • Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12 month period immediately preceding the leave*; and • Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
  5. 14 Fd 21 Aug
    TVM hás the perfect point. If an organization has political or religious policies it is just fair that as a customer, one might choose not to do business with them for the same reason. In this wonderful democracy, they will perish if too many consumers disagree with them, or flourish otherwise. Me for one, will certainly not do business with them, as I believe business and specially state, should remain secular and religion is a personal, not corporate decision, regardless of what the Supreme Court said.
  6. 13 Fd 21 Aug
    TVM hás the perfect point. If an organization has political or religious policies it is just fair that as a customer, one might choose not to do business with them for the same reason. In this wonderful democracy, they will perish if too many consumers disagree with them, or flourish otherwise. Me for one, will certainly not do business with them, as I believe business and specially state, should remain secular and religion is a personal, not corporate decision, regardless of what the Supreme Court said.
  7. 12 jim 21 Aug
    Salon has an agenda and apparently this author is lazy. It shouldn't be that hard to verify if its true or not, but to much effort for someone that copy and pasted Salons story.
  8. 11 The trolls, the trolls! 21 Aug
    If the facts of this story are correct - that an employee was in effect terminated for being pregnant - that is absolutely appalling. And here I see all these trolls posting here who immediately accuse the author of a political agenda. So what? Has this woman suffered an injustice, or no? Do you really think workers (by definition, only women) should be subject to dismissal for starting a family? That is a sad excuse for morality!
  9. 10 steve 21 Aug
    Payscale has some pretty good articles but if they want to become another voice for the liberal left by running moronic pieces of trash because one of your writer's has a political agenda, I will unsubscribe or mark their e-mails as spam. Your choice Payscale.
  10. 9 Megan 21 Aug
    Great story addressing an injustice in the industry. We need moms in the workforce but when companies refuse to 'walk the walk', it makes the choice to be a mom so tough....
  11. 8 Stan 21 Aug
    Wow, reflects very badly on Payscale. Can I assume you have unfilled editor positions? How does this happen? I found this by following a link that said "Did Hobby Lobby Fire A Woman For Taking Time Off To Give Birth?" I should have followed Stan's Rule of Headlines: "If there is a question mark in the headline, the answer is 'no'!!!".
  12. 7 Michelle 21 Aug
    My comment is that I'm disappointed that PayScale would run this obviously slanted op-ed piece as if it were a balanced piece of reporting. Not cool, Payscale. You're readers are smart enough to see through your thinly veiled journalistic attempt at the political agenda behind it.
  13. 6 Anne M Green 21 Aug
    Sadly, Mr. Kalish's article is an unveiled attempt to bad mouth a company he does not agree with personally. The fact that his article's beginning sentence is false, "Hobby Lobby, a craft supply store, has been all over the news recently for its stances on pregnancy." should tell you that not only does he not do his research, but that he has an agenda. Let's start by correcting his opening sentence. Hobby Lobby was successful with its supreme court case, which was about a privately held company being forced to provide life-ending forms of BIRTH CONTROL. It was not about "pregnancy," or maternity leave, or any other aspect of eligible leave of absence. Guess those facts would have ruined his opening premise. In fact, the supreme court case was about HL's willingness to provide its employees 16 forms of the ACA mandated birth control methods, while declining to provide 4 that were abortifacients. (those that cause a pregnancy to be terminated) Kalish does say that the employee in question knew she would NOT be eligible for maternity benefits, as per company policy. By his own description, the employee was 4 months pregnant when she went to work for HL. She knew that she would only be working for 5 months, and not the (almost universally accepted) required 6 months. Not to disparage her personally, but was she just trying to game the system? Did she know she was pregnant and not reveal it when she took the job? Who knows. But, the employee "spoke with her supervisor, and her supervisor assured her that she would not lose her job" should have been in writing if it was contrary to the company's stated policy. One could make an argument that the employee didn't know to get this exception in writing. In my mind it's moot. She knew she should not be eligible, and that any exception she may receive was very generous. Apparently, she got the unemployment benefits that she was not entitled to, through this very arbitration process. So, guess it was not such a bad policy after all. One last observation. Kalish tries desperately to paint HL as a big, bad company for having employees sign arbitration agreements. This is not exclusive to HL. Many companies do this to discourage ridiculous lawsuits that always crop up from opportunistic employees. Yet, he failed to mention that MANY companies do this. He worked overtime to make his personal viewpoint be the "facts" at the center of his article. Seriously, this is a poorly researched, poorly written article. Nice try for Kalish to piggy back on a recent SCOTUS event. It's unfortunate that he felt the need to be misleading in order to further his personal opinion. PayScale can do better than this. Step up.
  14. 5 Willa 21 Aug
    Wow!! I am amazed by this article....more amazed that this is even being addressed by payscale. I think your facts are incorrect about the whole incident. Hobby Lobby isn't even open on Sunday's that tells you someone respects God....
  15. 4 Ron 21 Aug
    The way this writer phrased his sentence already shows his biased agenda. It is well known that Hobby Lobby is not "anti-contraception". Its insurance covers most methods of contraception, except four drugs that have abortion effect --- kills impregnated embryo or prevents it to be implanted, which seriously conflict the conscientious belief that life begins at conception. This type of lies by the author deliberately aims at cultivating a negative view for those who executes their religious beliefs. Shame on PayScale to assist such dis-information.
  16. 3 Holly 21 Aug
    The information on FMLA rights in this article is incorrect. There is a number of employees you must have before you have to apply the FMLA and then an employee must be employed for 12 months and have worked 1250 hours in that time. It sounds like she didn't work there long enough to qualify and as a part time employee might have had a hard time meeting the 1250 hours in a 12 months period even if she had been there for 12 months. Other details in this article regarding arbitration are also incorrect.These kinds of articles are misleading, inflammatory and downright irresponsible. I'm amazed to read this on payscale.
  17. 2 perfect stance 10 Aug
    Bullshit story by left-wing losers.
  18. 1 TVM 08 Aug
    Don't shop there.

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