"By definition, a secular employer does not engage in any 'exercise of religion,'" Department of Justice attorneys said in a motion to dismiss Hercules' complaint. "Having chosen the secular, for-profit path, the company may not impose its owners’ religious beliefs on its employees."
But devout business owners argue how they conduct their business is a reflection of their religious beliefs, which is why they find providing birth control through their health plan a violation of their right to live out their faith.
"Faith plays a role in the lives of believers no matter what they are doing," said attorney Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Hercules. "It's not possible to declare areas of life, like business or education or health care, as areas where religion is banished by the government."
The federal circuit courts are split on the question, which means the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually have to determine whether religious freedom extends to the operations of a secular corporation.
Meantime, Dubensky predicts companies will continue take a proactive approach to addressing the religious needs of their employees.
"We are getting more and more calls and companies are looking for information on a range of things," she said. "In the next 15 years you will see an explosion of accommodations."
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