CVS sued by nurse who was fired after she refused to prescribe contraception due to her non secular beliefs

CVS Well being is dealing with one other lawsuit introduced by a former worker who claims the pharmacy chain’s resolution to fireside her after she refused to prescribe contraception to sufferers violated her non secular rights beneath federal legislation. J. Robyn Strader, a nurse practitioner and Texas resident, labored at a CVS MinuteClinic for six and a half years, in accordance with the lawsuit, which she filed by her lawyer in U.S. district courtroom in Forth Value on Wednesday.

The grievance alleges that CVS terminated Strader’s employment illegally, arguing that the corporate’s resolution dismissed protections outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The supply, handed as a part of a broader bundle of landmark laws in 1964, prohibits employment discrimination on the premise of race, shade, faith, intercourse and nationwide origin. One part of Title VII particularly notes that “[t]he time period ‘faith’ contains all points of non secular observance and follow, in addition to perception, except an employer demonstrates that he’s unable to fairly accommodate to an worker’s or potential worker’s non secular observance or follow with out undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s enterprise.”

Strader claims within the new lawsuit that her Christian religion prevented her from prescribing contraceptive or abortion-inducing medication to sufferers on the CVS the place she labored. For almost all of Strader’s tenure there, she says CVS granted her a spiritual lodging that allowed her to personally reject sufferers’ requests for these prescriptions and as an alternative refer them to a colleague or a distinct MinuteClinic. However, in August 2021, CVS Well being revoked a earlier coverage concerning non secular lodging that ensured all staff’ wants can be met, the swimsuit says.

“CVS’s new coverage is to disclaim all such non secular lodging with out contemplating the actual circumstances of the worker requesting the lodging, together with to find out whether or not that worker may very well be accommodated with out undue hardship,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit asserts that the pharmacy may have transferred Strader to a job that might not require her to be in conditions the place she may need to prescribe contraception, as an alternative of holding her in an “important” place the place offering non secular lodging immediately conflicted with the operate of her job. Citing each the Civil Rights Act and one other courtroom case that states employers should contemplate non secular lodging requests on a person foundation, the lawsuit additionally claims that CVS “failed to have interaction along with her about potential lodging, and terminated her due to her non secular beliefs.”

CVS Health Results
A CVS Pharmacy signal stands in Mount Lebanon, Pa., on Monday Could 3, 2021.

Gene J. Puskar / AP


Strader’s authorized grievance is much like two different fits filed in Kansas and Virginia in opposition to CVS Well being final 12 months, the place former staff alleged that they had been unlawfully terminated for refusing to prescribe contraception due to their non secular beliefs. Within the Virginia grievance, filed final September, the plaintiff, Paige Casey, was represented by the conservative nonprofit authorized group Alliance Defending Freedom.

Across the time Casey’s lawsuit was filed, Michael DeAngelis, a spokesperson for CVS, advised CBS MoneyWatch that the corporate does attempt to accommodate staff’ non secular beliefs, however offering sexual and reproductive well being companies to sufferers is a elementary a part of working at its walk-in clinics.

“It isn’t potential … to grant an lodging that exempts an worker from performing the important capabilities of their job,” DeAngelis mentioned in a press release. “We can’t grant exemptions from these important MinuteClinic capabilities.”

DeAngelis echoed that sentiment in one other assertion shared with CBS Information after Strader’s lawsuit was filed. Addressing the allegations included in it in opposition to CVS Well being, the spokesperson mentioned that there’s nonetheless a company channel for workers to request, and in some circumstances, obtain lodging for non secular beliefs, which may contain exemptions from skilled duties. Nevertheless, DeAngelis reiterated that exemptions as non secular lodging don’t apply to “the important capabilities” of an worker’s job.

“Now we have a well-defined course of in place for workers to request and be granted an inexpensive lodging as a result of their non secular beliefs, which in some circumstances might be an exemption from performing sure job capabilities. It isn’t potential, nevertheless, to grant an lodging that exempts an worker from performing the important capabilities of their job,” DeAngelis mentioned within the assertion.

“As we proceed to reinforce our MinuteClinic companies, educating and treating sufferers concerning sexual well being issues – together with being pregnant prevention, sexually transmitted an infection prevention, screening and remedy, and safer intercourse practices – have develop into important job capabilities of our suppliers and nurses,” the assertion continued, including, “We can’t grant exemptions from these important MinuteClinic capabilities except it’s required by state legislation.”

For the reason that U.S. Supreme Courtroom overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that in 1973 established federal rights to decide on to have an abortion, states throughout the nation have handed their very own legal guidelines limiting entry to the process, with a minimum of 13 of them enacting near-total abortion bans. Each CVS and Walgreens, that are the nation’s largest drugstore chains, lately advised CBS MoneyWatch that they intend to promote the abortion drug mifepristone after the Meals and Drug Administration reversed a ruling that prevented retail pharmacies from allotting the remedy. 

The FDA’s resolution got here simply days after a Justice Division ruling confirmed that U.S. Postal Service can proceed to ship abortion remedy by mail, even in states which have handed restrictions since Roe’s reversal. Though CVS and Walgreens drugstores will be unable to promote mifepristone in states the place abortion is banned, the FDA ruling is anticipated to develop entry to a drug that beforehand was restricted to smaller mail-order pharmacies.

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