Hobby Lobby Employees Speak out After Stores Reopen, Defying Coronavirus-Related Shutdowns

As Hobby Lobby continues to remain open, defying stay-at-home policies prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, a number of employees are beginning to speak out. In several states across the country, including Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana, the craft store has remained open, with a leaked memo showing that the company has claimed it "is going to make every effort to continue working the employees." That memo was followed by a second one laying out how managers should respond if approached by authorities questioning their validity as an essential business.

"The main thing is they're not really telling us anything. Last Monday we closed because we were a nonessential business basically, and that was fine with me. Not even four days later, we're reopened because they're saying we're essential now," one employee in Ohio, who spoke out under the condition of anonymity, told Business Insider via email. "My wife is pretty furious. We're trying to take care of my mother who had knee surgery and also has multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease. I don't want to bring it home and get her infected. I used to love working for this company, but since this pandemic, I've seen how callous and irresponsible it has been."

That employee said that they have gone as far as attempting to contact both the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who has risen as one of the leading figures of the pandemic. On March 22, DeWine officially ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, which would include stores such as Hobby Lobby, and mandated a stay-at-home order in an attempt to flatten the curve, according to Cleveland.com.

"Management is being so secretive and won't be open with what's going on," another Ohio employee told the outlet. "We also don't have the employees to do the extensive cleaning that they say we are doing on the website because payroll keeps telling management to cut hours. I'm just very anxious about this whole thing and don't understand why no one is helping us employees out with this situation."

Employees in Ohio are not alone, though, as other employees at locations across the country have reported similar scenarios of closing after a stay-at-home order has been issued only to reopen days later under the premise that Hobby Lobby is an essential business.

"This has all been so stressful and exhausting," an employee from another Midwest state said. "I don't want to stay home because I'm too lazy to work. I want to stay home to do my part to stop the spread of the virus."

Employees in both North Carolina and Colorado, where stay-at-home orders were issued in recent days, are also speaking out, casting doubt of Hobby Lobby's claims that they can remain open because they are an "essential business" due to their sales of educational materials and products for home-based businesses.

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"Hobby Lobby is fighting that we are an essential store," one employee said. "There is absolutely nothing in Hobby Lobby worth spreading this illness. I'm honestly appalled at this company and the way it doesn't care for its employees and only about making their money."

Despite Hobby Lobby's belief that it is should be considered an essential business, officials in several states have begun to order the closure of the company's stores, with Conor Cahill, the press secretary for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, telling the Denver Post that "they are not exempt."