A Christian nurse practitioner in Texas filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against CVS Pharmacy, claiming she was terminated by the company because 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, and the law firm Boyden Gray & Associates, are representing Robyn Strader, a nurse practitioner previously employed by a CVS MinuteClinic in Keller, Texas.
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
"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," said First Liberty Institute Counsel Christine Pratt. "It is illegal to issue a blanket revocation of all religious accommodations when it is so easy for CVS to accommodate its employees. CVS is sending a message that religious health care workers are not welcome and need not apply."
Boyden Gray & Associates Partner Jonathan Berry, who was the former head of rulemaking at the U.S. Department of Labor, added, "Our employment laws protect religious freedom in the workplace. No one should have to choose between her faith and her job, especially where it would be easy to continue a longstanding religious accommodation. Boyden Gray & Associates looks forward to vigorously defending Robyn's rights in court."
In the complaint, attorneys state, "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."
As CBN News reported last February, First Liberty filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against CVS Pharmacy for their action.
In the six years Strader 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.
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.
CBN News reached out to CVS' Executive Director of Corporate Communications Mike DeAngelis for comment.
In an email to CBN News, DeAngelis said, "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. It is not possible, however, to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job."
"As we continue to enhance our MinuteClinic services, educating and treating patients regarding sexual health matters - including pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infection prevention, screening and treatment, and safer sex practices - have become essential job functions of our providers and nurses. We cannot grant exemptions from these essential MinuteClinic functions unless it is required by state law," he concluded.
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