A former CVS nurse practitioner is suing the company after it fired her for refusing to prescribe birth control and Plan B for religious reasons
- A former CVS employee in Texas is suing the company after it fired her for refusing to give out birth control.
- The suit claims the company granted her "religious accommodation" until it reversed the policy in August 2021.
CVS is being hit with yet another lawsuit from a former employee who said they were fired for refusing to prescribe birth control and Plan B because of religious beliefs.
In a suit filed Wednesday, former CVS Health nurse practitioner Robyn Strader claims the drugstore chain violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by revoking her religious accommodation while "refusing to consider her particular circumstances or even discuss possible alternative accommodations" and subsequently terminating her for failure to dispense contraceptives.
The suit claims CVS previously granted Strader religious accommodation so that she was not required to give out birth control at the MinuteClinic where she worked in Keller, Texas. But in August 2021, the company revoked the policy.
Strader, who said she is a Christian and a longtime member of the Baptist Church, referred patients seeking birth control and abortion-inducing drugs to other nearby clinics, a practice the lawsuit claims "worked successfully for years" before her religious accommodation was revoked.
The lawsuit argues that CVS is attempting to "sidestep Title VII's requirement to accommodate religious employees by merely labeling a particular function 'essential,'" after the company deemed providing birth control an essential part of the jobs of providers and nurses.
"After accommodating Robyn for six and a half years without a single complaint, CVS fired her because it simply did not like her pro-life religious beliefs," Christine Pratt, counsel for First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit Christian conservative legal organization representing Strader, said in a statement.
CVS Executive Director of Corporate Communications Mike DeAngelis told Insider in a statement that sexual health education and treatment "have become essential job functions" for providers and nurses, adding the company "cannot grant exemptions from these essential MinuteClinic functions unless it is required by state law."
"We have a well-defined process in place for employees to request and be granted a reasonable accommodation due to their religious beliefs, which in some cases can be an exemption from performing certain job functions," he said. "It is not possible, however, to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job."
Currently, six states — Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota — allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control pills or Plan B for religious reasons.
An additional six states "have broad refusal clauses that do not specifically include pharmacists, but may apply to them," according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization dedicated to advancing reproductive health.
Strader's suit follows similar legal action taken by CVS nurse practitioners in Virginia and Kansas, who also claim the company fired them for refusal to provide birth control to customers.
In September 2022, former CVS employee Paige Casey filed a lawsuit against the company in Prince William County Virginia Circuit Court, accusing the company of not acknowledging her religious accommodation for dispensing contraceptives and Plan B.
And in October 2022, Suzanne Schuler, a former employee of a MinuteWell clinic at CVS store in Olathe, Kansas, also filed a lawsuit against the drugstore chain when she was similarly dismissed for refusing to provide birth control and Plan B because of her Nazarene faith.
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