Nurse Sues CVS Over Religious Objections to Prescribing Birth Control

A former nurse practitioner at CVS has filed a lawsuit against her longtime employer for allegedly violating her religious beliefs, after she was apparently fired for refusing to prescribe birth control.

In her lawsuit, J. Robyn Strader — who had previously worked at a Texas CVS MinuteClinic for 6½ years — claims that CVS granted her a religious accommodation not to prescribe “contraceptive and abortifacient” drugs to patients.

And when a patient put in a rare request for prescription birth control, Strader said she would alternatively refer customers to another CVS Minute Clinic provider, due to her Christian faith.

However, beginning in August 2021 — coinciding with CVS’ altered stance of revoking religious accommodations for those requesting prescribed medications, such as contraception — Strader said that CVS avoided “accommodating a religious practice that it could accommodate without undue hardship,” which might have been a Section 12 violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Strader’s complaint also referenced how CVS should have considered religious accommodation requests on an individual basis, instead of prohibiting all religious accommodations across the board.

From the Strader legal team’s perspective, CVS could have accommodated Strader by transferring the nurse practitioner to a position where filling birth-control prescriptions was not an “essential” job function.

“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.

Six states — Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Idaho, and South Dakota — permit pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription based on religious or moral beliefs, according to The Hill.

Given the uncomfortable work environment, the complaint states that Strader ultimately felt “pressure” from CVS’ management team to ignore her religious accommodation or quit. 

And on Oct. 31, 2021, Strader claims she was fired — despite CVS apparently ignoring three of her letters asking for a resolution to the religious accommodation.

According to The Hill, other nurse practitioners in Kansas and Virginia have filed similar lawsuits against CVS for being terminated over allegedly refusing to prescribe birth control.

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