Court Battles

Nurse fired for refusing to prescribe birth control sues CVS

A former CVS employee filed a lawsuit against the company Wednesday for allegedly violating her religious beliefs after she was fired for refusing to prescribe birth control.

J. Robyn Strader worked as a nurse practitioner at a Texas CVS MinuteClinic for more than six years, saying that CVS granted her a religious accommodation during that time to not prescribe “contraceptive and abortifacient” drugs to patients, according to the complaint. The complaint alleges that when a patient would “rarely” request a prescription like birth control, Strader would refer them to another CVS MinuteClinic provider because of her Christian faith.

The complaints stated that this accommodation worked until August 2021, when CVS announced a new policy that it would revoke religious accommodations that allowed providers to not prescribe drugs like contraception. The complaint alleged by refusing to accommodate Strader, CVS avoided “accommodating a religious practice that it could accommodate without undue hardship,” which the complaint says is in violation of Section 12 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The complaint also said that CVS needed to consider religious accommodation requests on an individual basis, instead of prohibiting all religious accommodations on one issue. The complaint suggested that CVS could have accommodated her by transferring her to a position where she did not need to prescribe the birth control, instead of deciding to keep her in a position where prescribing birth control was “essential.”

“In addition to prospectively preempting all requests for religious accommodations, CVS unlawfully derided Ms. Strader’s religious beliefs, pressured her to change her beliefs, refused to consider her multiple requests for a religious accommodation, failed to engage with her about possible accommodations, and terminated her because of her religious beliefs,” the complaint reads.

In the complaint, Strader said she felt “pressure” from her manager to either ignore her religious accommodation or quit. The complaint said she was fired on Oct. 31, 2021, after CVS ignored three of her letters asking them to accommodate to her religion.

Similar lawsuits in Virginia and Kansas have been filed against CVS from other nurse practitioners who allege that they were fired for refusing to prescribe birth control. Six states — Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Idaho and South Dakota — allow pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription based on religious or moral beliefs.

Tags Birth control CVS Lawsuit religious belief Roe v. Wade Texas

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