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MSPB’s Ruling in Chandler Sets Standard for Furlough Appeals

On November 26, 2013, the Supreme Court granted two certiorari petitions, agreeing to hear and decide the legality of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring for-profit employers to include coverage for contraceptives in their insurance coverage offered to employees.

In Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, the Tenth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that requiring employers to provide contraception coverage violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That act provides protections for religious expression. In reaching its decision, the Tenth Circuit held that corporations, just like individuals, possess constitutional religious-expression rights. A December 16, 2013, decision from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York recently reached the same result.
In contrast, the Third Circuit, in Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, upheld the contraception mandate as applied to a for-profit company owned by a Mennonite family. With numerous similar cases pending throughout the country, the Supreme Court’s decision should resolve the conflict.

Briefing in the case will be completed in early 2014, with oral argument likely in spring 2014. A decision is anticipated in mid-2014.

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