Civil Rights

07.22.14

The Hobby Lobby Case and Sex Discrimination

The Supreme Court recently upheld the right of corporations to exclude birth control from health care coverage. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that’s discrimination, and it’s against the law.

While the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the right of corporations to exclude birth control from health care coverage, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that doing so actually violates federal anti-discrimination law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex, including enacting policies that disproportionately hurt men or women. Which means that corporations that single out contraceptives – while covering other medical care – discriminate based on gender. Last week, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, the EEOC reaffirmed that excluding contraception amounts to sex discrimination. In Hobby Lobby, the Court wasn’t asked to address Title VII, only religious freedom, but Bloomberg View argues that the government’s historic interest in protecting women from pregnancy discrimination could – and should – have been used to tip the scale against Hobby Lobby. Which means there may still be a successful challenge to insurance policies that deny contraceptive coverage based on what it truly is: discrimination.