CVS is being sued once again by an ex-employee who claims they were dismissed for religiously motivated refusal to dispense contraception and Plan B.
Robyn Strader, a former nurse practitioner at CVS Health, filed a lawsuit against the company on Wednesday, alleging that CVS violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by revoking her religious accommodation without “considering her particular circumstances or even discussing possible alternative accommodations,” and then terminating her for failing to dispense contraceptives.
Strader worked at a CVS MinuteClinic in Keller, Texas, and the lawsuit says CVS offered her a religious accommodation so she could avoid dispensing contraception as part of her job. The corporation, however, rescinded the rule in August 2021.
According to the complaint, Strader, who identifies as a Christian and a longstanding member of the Baptist Church, sent patients seeking birth control and abortion-inducing medicines to other local clinics for “years” until her religious accommodation was canceled.
Since administering birth control is an essential element of the work of providers and nurses, the complaint claims that CVS is trying to “sidestep Title VII’s need to accommodate religious employees by merely designating a certain function ‘essential.'”
Christine Pratt, counsel for First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit Christian conservative legal organization representing Strader, said in a statement, “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.”
CVS’s executive director of corporate communications, Mike DeAngelis, told Insider in a statement that the company “cannot grant exemptions from these essential MinuteClinic functions unless it is required by state law” that providers and nurses receive training on sexual health education and treatment.
Depending on the employee’s religious convictions, “we have a well-defined mechanism in place for workers to request and be given a reasonable accommodation,” he explained. On the other hand, “it is not conceivable to make an accommodation that exempts an employee from executing the fundamental tasks of their work.”
Six states now enable pharmacists to refuse to sell birth control pills or Plan B for religious reasons: Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota.
A further six states “have wide refusal provisions that do not directly mention pharmacists but may apply to them,” as stated by the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research and develops policies to improve reproductive health.
Strader’s lawsuit is identical to those filed by nurse practitioners in Virginia and Kansas against CVS, alleging that they were terminated for refusing to supply clients with contraception.
Paige Casey, a former employee of CVS, filed a complaint against the corporation in the Prince William County Virginia Circuit Court in September 2022, claiming that CVS did not respect her religious accommodation when it came to the distribution of contraceptives and Plan B.
Suzanne Schuler, a former employee of a MinuteWell clinic in a CVS store in Olathe, Kansas, filed a lawsuit against the drugstore company in October 2022 after she was terminated for refusing to give birth control and Plan B due to her Nazarene beliefs.