Kenneth J. Fortier: Employees have rights

March 28, 2014 

In his column “ Our 1st freedom, in practice,” Rick Warren compared the “freedom to operate family businesses based on religious beliefs” with the freedom of employees to live their personal lives according to their own “religious beliefs, moral convictions and freedom of conscience.”

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby involves the improper contention that corporations, private or public, are people and the intersection of our lives as free persons and our work as hirelings. Corporations exist and benefit due to our lawful collective agreement to bestow certain financial, legal and organizational advantages that encourage patterns of activity intended to promote the establishment and growth of enterprise. Within this favorable business structure, employees cede the greater portion of control over how and when they work, subject to provisions designed to protect their health, well-being and human dignity.

Hobby Lobby is not being asked to provide contraceptive services but to provide health insurance. A company receiving the lawful benefits of corporate protections should expect to comply with the lawful obligations, including those of health insurance. And employees should be free to pursue lawful use of the fruits of their labor, including wages and other benefits.

Kenneth J. Fortier, Raleigh

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