Hobby Lobby Lays off by Email
The craft company fired their staff via email on Tuesday
For weeks, craft store Hobby Lobby has been insisting on keeping their stores open even as other companies have made the decision to voluntarily close to stop the spread of coronavirus. By the middle of March, retailers like Macy’s, Nordstroms, and Apple had all closed their stores nationwide to protect their employees and customers. Macy’s paid their employees for almost two weeks before announcing this week that about 125,000 would be furloughed, although the company did announce that healthcare for furloughed workers would still be covered. Other employers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and American Eagle have also announced they will continue to pay workers for at least part of the shutdown.
In Macy’s case, the company was facing pressure from RWDSU, which represents about 7% of its workers, to do the right thing and take care of their workers. However, at Hobby Lobby the company's CEO informed employees that they were staying open “thanks to God's Blessing.” He went on to say that the CEO’s wife told him “In her quiet prayer time this past week, the Lord put on Barbara’s heart three profound words to remind us that He’s in control. Guide, Guard, and Groom. We serve a God who will guide us through this storm, who will Guard us as we travel to places never seen before, and who, as a result of this experience, will Groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible before now.” The billionaire owner also said “God is in control” and that everyone “will have to tighten their belts.”
As the company stayed open, they faced criticism from their employees and religious groups for refusing to offer their employees paid sick leave. In a March 23rd memo, Randy Betts, Hobby Lobby’s vice president of store operations wrote that the company “is going to make every effort to continue working the employees” and that sick workers would either need to exhaust all paid time off and vacation time, or take an “unpaid leave of absence until further notice.” This was in direct contrast to what other retailers like Target and union employer Kroger, whose employees are members of the UFCW, were doing. Both companies expanded sick leave policies with Kroger employees getting two weeks of paid sick leave if they test positive for COVID-19. Many other companies have announced similar paid leave plans and hazard pay for their employees who are working.
On Monday, Hobby Lobby gave in and started closing stores nationwide. With many states issuing stay at home orders, the company clearly saw the writing on the wall. Being that the company was founded on deep Christian principles and is worth over $6 Billion it would stand to reason that he would have taken care of his employees at least over the short term, right? Well, that was not the case as employees received an email on Tuesday informing them that they were all fired with no severance and no continuation of health benefits.
In the email from the vice president of the company’s art and creative division, Darsee Lett wrote, "It is with a tremendously broken heart that I’ve been forced to take these unimaginable actions, and I genuinely hope you know that my prayers are with you and your family." Lett added, "It has been such an honor having you on my Team. I truly and deeply appreciate your service to this Department and the Company, and wish you the very best as this calamity hopefully ends in the very near future."
Hobby Lobby has never been a good company, they were the ones that sued to overturn the Affordable Care Act, but this is a new low. It also shows the importance of working in a union workplace.