CVS Pharmacy is being accused of firing a Christian nurse after she sought a religious accommodation from prescribing contraception, an accommodation the company had granted her for the previous six years.
First Liberty Institute, a legal organization that protects religious freedom, is representing Robyn Strader, a nurse practitioner previously employed by a CVS MinuteClinic in Keller, Texas. They've filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against CVS Pharmacy for their action.
"The corporate canceling of faithful religious Americans like Robyn must end," said First Liberty Institute Counsel Christine Pratt. "CVS accommodated Robyn for more than six years without any problems. It's bad medicine to force religious health care professionals to choose between their faith and their job, especially at a time when we need as many health care professionals as we can get."
In the six years Strader had worked for CVS, on the few occasions, someone requested a contraception prescription from her she would refer them to another nurse practitioner in her store or to another CVS MinuteClinic located two miles away.
Then, in August 2021, CVS suddenly announced that it would no longer honor religious accommodations related to pregnancy prevention services regardless of circumstances. Strader was reportedly informed by her supervisor that she had no religious accommodation on file.
According to documents filed with the EEOC by First Liberty, Strader's manager repeatedly pressured her to change her beliefs. CVS also failed to respond to three letters she wrote requesting a religious accommodation.
On Oct. 31, 2021, CVS terminated Strader for not prescribing contraceptives. After she was fired, the company claimed she never requested a religious accommodation and that accommodating her would cause CVS an undue hardship, according to the EEOC complaint.
Strader has an extensive background in health care and higher education. She taught science at the high school and pre-professional levels, and she has multiple degrees, including a Ph.D. in Health Education from the University of Toledo Medical Center; a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker University; a Masters in Nursing, Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner from Texas Woman's University; and an MBA from Texas Woman's University.
In its complaint to the EEOC, First Liberty attorneys wrote, "CVS discriminated against Ms. Strader on the basis of religion when it prospectively preempted all requests for religious accommodations related to contraception prescription, derided her religious beliefs and pressured her to abandon them, discontinued a six-year religious accommodation without cause, refused to consider her request for an ongoing religious accommodation, failed to engage with her about possible accommodations, and terminated her because of her religious beliefs. In these ways, CVS violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act."
CVS' Executive Director of Corporate Communications Mike DeAngelis defended the company's actions in a statement to The Christian Post, saying CVS has "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."
"It is not possible, however, to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job," he continued. "We continue to enhance our MinuteClinic services, growing from providing urgent care to offering more holistic care."
But Strader said her faith prohibits her from assisting with any activity that could end a human life.
"I am a Christian and longtime member of a Baptist Church. I believe that all human life is created in God's image and should be protected. For this reason, I cannot participate in facilitating an abortion or participate in facilitating contraceptive use that could prevent the implantation of an embryo, cause an abortion, or contribute to infertility," she said in her discrimination complaint.