Hobby Lobby Closes All Stores Furloughing Employees Without Pay

Business Insider reports that Hobby Lobby will now close all stores nationwide after defying state lockdown orders relating to the ongoing coronavirus threat. Most employees will be furloughed without pay.

The owner of Hobby Lobby, David Green, is worth an estimated $6.2 billion. So, you can see how he couldn’t possibly afford to pay his employees, right?

In a statement posted on the company website on Friday afternoon, Hobby Lobby announced it will furlough “nearly all store employees” without pay and “is ending emergency leave pay and suspending use of company provided paid time off benefits and vacation.”

“As the country continues efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m,” Hobby Lobby posted on its website. “The stores will remain closed until further notice.”

According to three employees, each speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, managers at their stores called teams into a meeting to deliver the news on Friday afternoon.

“The line our manager gave us was, ‘The employees got what the employees wanted, the stores were closed,'” a Hobby Lobby employee in Indiana said. “My question was did God tell them they needed to closed the stores and not pay us?” ‘

On March 19, Green sent his employees a letter citing God as his justification for keeping his stores open. He wrote that his wife Barbara received a message directly from God about coping with the health crisis.

God didn’t mention anything about paid sick leave, I guess…

News Round-Up: March 30, 2020

Ryan Worley of the Chippendales (photo: Noel Photo Studios)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Ryan Worley of the Chippendales (above) says he’s missing performing in the long-running Las Vegas production asking, “Who wants to save a horse?” #RideACowboy

The Advocate: According to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups is continuing to rise. In 2018, there were 49 groups classified as an LGBTQ hate group. In 2019, that number increased 43 percent to 70 anti-LBTQ hate groups.

Entertainment Weekly: Andy Cohen will continue to host Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, coronavirus be damned. Bravo announced Monday that new episodes of the late-night talk show will begin airing Monday at 11 p.m. ET direct from Cohen’s New York City apartment via video chats with his guests.

NowThis: Watch the hilarious way sportscasters are passing the time while they’re out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic by calling play-by-play of daily tasks.

NewNowNext: Singapore’s High Court has ruled against a challenge to the country’s law criminalizing gay sex, which punishes the act with up to two years in prison. Justice See Kee Oon rejected arguments against Section 377A of the penal code, which not only punishes men who have sex with other men, but also anyone who aids in or attempts to participate in, such an act.  Justice See argued the law “serves the purpose of safeguarding public morality by showing societal moral disapproval of male homosexual acts.”

Daily Beast: A new survey conducted by Ipsos provides some of the clearest evidence to date that the president’s attempts to paint a rosy picture about the coronavirus’ spread throughout the country are not resonating beyond a small segment of the populace with a small exception for those who say they’re getting their information from Fox News.

Buzzfeed: Click over for a collection of some of the best of gay Twitter including…

LGBT advocacy groups withdraw support for ENDA over religious exemption clause

In the aftermath of the recent Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision, LGBT advocacy groups are withdrawing their support of ENDA, passed last fall in the US Senate but currently languishing in the House.

The American Civil Liberties Union issued this statement via press release:

The provision in the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that allows religious organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity has long been a source of significant concern to us.

Given the types of workplace discrimination we see increasingly against LGBT people, together with the calls for greater permission to discriminate on religious grounds that followed immediately upon the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, it has become clear that the inclusion of this provision is no longer tenable.

It would prevent ENDA from providing protections that LGBT people desperately need and would make very bad law with potential further negative effects.

Therefore, we are announcing our withdrawal of support for the current version of ENDA.

From Executive Director Rea Carey of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

“If a private company can take its own religious beliefs and say you can’t have access to certain health-care, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to an interpretation that a private company could have religious beliefs that LGBT people are not equal or somehow go against their beliefs and therefore fire them. We disagree with that trend. The implications of Hobby Lobby are becoming clear…We do not take this decision lightly. We’ve been pushing for this bill for 20 years.”

In addition, a coalition comprised of the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights issued a joint statement that they also would be withdrawing support.

According to the statement, the legislation’s current religious exemptions clause is so broadly written that “ENDA’s discriminatory provision, unprecedented in federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, could provide religiously affiliated organizations – including hospitals, nursing homes and universities – a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people.”

LGBT activists are now advocating adding the four words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure fair protections for all LGBT folks.

George Takei calls for boycott of Hobby Lobby

George Takei writes a lengthy essay on the Hobby Lobby ruling by SCOTUS yesterday:

In this case, the owners happen to be deeply Christian; one wonders whether the case would have come out differently if a Muslim-run chain business attempted to impose Sharia law on its employees.

As many have pointed out, Hobby Lobby is the same company that invests in Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals, makers of abortion inducing-drugs and the morning after pill. It also buys most of its inventory from China, where forced abortions are common. The hypocrisy is galling.

Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a business — and a big one at that. Businesses must and should be required to comply with neutrally crafted laws of general applicability. Your boss should not have a say over your healthcare. Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue. Indeed, this is the same logic that certain restaurants and hotels have been trying to deploy to allow proprietors to refuse service to gay couples.

We are a nation that respects religious beliefs, but also the right not to have those beliefs imposed upon you by others. Our personal beliefs stop at the end of our noses, and your should therefore keep it out of other people’s business — and bedrooms.

While we work to overturn this decision by legislation, people of good conscious should BOYCOTT any for-profit business, including Hobby Lobby, which chooses to impose its religious beliefs on its employees. The only way such companies ever learn to treat people with decency and tolerance is to hit them where it counts–in their pocketbooks. I won’t be shopping there, and women everywhere should exercise their right of protest and refuse to shop there as well.

Read the full essay here.