The Christian-owned arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby will raise its minimum wage for all full-time employees to $17 an hour beginning on Oct. 1.
Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based company that operates nearly 1,000 stores across the United States, announced the minimum-wage increase on Monday.
The announcement comes as many Americans face economic hardships and uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Because this year has presented so many challenges to our employees, we are very happy that we are able to provide pay increases to thousands of our associates before the Christmas season,” said Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green.
“We have always worked hard to be a retail leader when it comes to taking care of our people. From closing our stores on Sundays and at 8 p.m. the rest of the week, to providing some of the best pay and benefits in the retail industry, we are thankful that we are able to share our success with our valued employees and provide time for rest, family and worship.”
Hobby Lobby said that it was one of the first national retailers to establish “a nationwide minimum hourly wage well above the federal minimum wage.”
The company said that it has raised its minimum wage 10 times over the last 11 years.
Hobby Lobby’s move comes three months after the major retail chain Target increased its minimum wage to $15 per hour earlier than previously planned as a result of the pandemic.
Hobby Lobby first raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2014 " well before it became fashionable with other retailers," according to the company's statement.
Founded in 1972, Hobby Lobby has frequently found itself embroiled in controversy in recent years.
The owners have not hesitated to speak publicly about their Christiani faith, with the retail chain’s president, Steve Green, once declaring that “this is God’s company” to be operated “according to the principles He has given us in His word.”
In 2012, the Green family filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over a mandate in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control and abortion-inducing drugs, such as the “morning-after” pill.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in 2014 that corporations can refuse to provide coverage for abortifacients in their health insurance plans if they possessed deeply held religious beliefs preventing them from doing so in good conscience.
A subsequent Supreme Court ruling this summer upheld a Trump administration rule broadening the religious exemptions to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.
Democrat 2020 presidential nominee Joe Biden has vowed to roll back conscience protections for companies opposed to the mandate on religious grounds should he win in November.
“If I am elected, I will restore the Obama-Biden policy that existed before the Hobby Lobby ruling: providing an exemption for houses of worship and an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious missions,” Biden vowed in a campaign email last year.
Hobby Lobby has found itself back in the news multiple times in 2020.
In March, the retailer came under fire for its decision not to close during the coronavirus pandemic. While the company tried to portray itself as an “essential business” during the coronavirus shutdowns, government officials in some states ordered Hobby Lobby to close.
Last week, a photograph shared on Twitter showing a display at a Hobby Lobby store reading “USA Vote Trump” led to fresh calls for a boycott from Americans opposed to the president’s re-election.
Less than 48 hours after the photograph was first shared on Twitter, the hashtag #BoycottHobbyLobby had accumulated over 46,000 likes and more than 12,000 retweets.