A nurse practitioner is suing CVS in federal court for allegedly firing her for refusing to prescribe hormonal contraception because it violated her religious beliefs.
Robyn Strader claims in her lawsuit that CVS terminated her employment after she requested a religious exemption from providing medication that could, in her view, “intentionally end the development or life of an unborn child,” according to a press release.
“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 Christine Pratt, counsel for First Liberty Institute.
“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,” Pratt said.
The lawsuit was filed jointly by the First Liberty Institute and law firm Boyden Gray & Associates.
Strader had worked at the CVS Minute Clinic in Keller since 2015. While working at the location, she referred customers to other practitioners or nearby pharmacy locations when asked to provide medications that violated her religious beliefs.
However, in August 2021, CVS announced it would no longer provide religious exemptions to “essential” employees who objected to hormonal contraception. Strader was terminated in October 2021, shortly afterward.
In a statement to NBC News, a CVS spokesperson said that “educating and treating patients regarding sexual health matters — including pregnancy prevention” had become “essential” following an expansion of the company’s in-person clinic services.
Strader’s lawsuit alleges that CVS could have transferred her to another position in the company, which would have allowed for her religious exemption to be accommodated, but instead, the company opted to fire her.
“At a time when we need as many quality health care providers as possible, we should not be driving out excellent nurse practitioners like Robyn from the medical field because of her faith,” said Stephanie Taub, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, speaking with The Dallas Express.
“This is particularly true when corporations like CVS can easily provide accommodations, as they did for Robyn for six and a half years.”
Strader further claims that CVS violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“An employer cannot sidestep Title VII’s requirement to accommodate religious employees by merely labeling a particular function ‘essential.’ This label is particularly unconvincing when it concerns less than 0.2% of the functions an employee performs,” reads the suit.
Strader’s lawsuit is not the only one CVS is currently facing over this issue.
Two other suits have been brought to federal court by former nurse practitioners who claim they were also fired for refusing to carry out job duties that violated their religious beliefs.
Jonathan Berry, a partner at Boyden Gray & Associates who previously worked at the U.S. Department of Labor, explained that religious freedom is an essential pillar of employment law in the United States.
“No one should have to choose between her faith and her job, especially where it would be easy to continue a long-standing religious accommodation,” Berry said. “Boyden Gray & Associates looks forward to vigorously defending Robyn’s rights in court.”