In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2751 (2014), the Supreme Court held that the so-called contraceptive mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). After finding that for-profit corporations are "persons" under the RFRA, the Court proceeded to declare that the ACA's regulatory requirement that insurance benefits offered to employees include contraceptive coverage burdened a company's free exercise of religion in a manner that exceeded the RFRA's "least restrictive means" requirement. Id. at 2768, 2775, 2780.
Leaving aside the questionable means by which the Court reached its decision in Burwell, one thing the Court neglected to address was the manner in which this newly established right of a legal fiction to practice religion impacts the rights of employees under well-established anti-discrimination statutes. See, e.g., Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin); Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability); California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code § 12900 et seq. (prohibiting discrimination against California employees based on a more expansive list of protected categories than Title VII). After allowing employers to use religion as a basis for withholding contraceptive coverage from its employees, the Court did not conclude that a corporation's exercise of its religion trumped the right of employees to be free from discrimination in the workplace.