CVS Health is facing another lawsuit from a former employee who claims the drugstore chain’s decision to fire her after she refused to prescribe a contraceptive to patients violated her religious rights under federal law. Nurse practitioner and Texas resident J. Robyn Strader worked at a CVS MinuteClinic for six-and-a-half years, according to the lawsuit, which she filed Wednesday with her attorney in U.S. District Court in Forth Worth.
The complaint alleges that CVS unlawfully terminated Strader’s employment, arguing that the company’s decision denied the protections outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The provision, passed as part of a broader set of landmark laws in 1964, prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. A section of Title VII specifically notes that ”
“CVS’s new policy is to deny all such religious accommodations without considering the particular circumstances of the employee requesting the accommodation, including determining whether that employee could be accommodated without undue hardship,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims the pharmacy could have shifted Strader to a role that didn’t require her to be in situations where she might have to prescribe a contraceptive, instead of keeping her in an “essential” position of providing religious accommodation directly. in conflict with the function of his job. Citing both the Civil Rights Act and another court case that states employers must consider requests for religious accommodation on an individual basis, the lawsuit also claims that CVS “did not discuss with it potential accommodations and fired her because of her religious beliefs”.
Strader’s legal complaint is similar to two other lawsuits filed in Kansas and Virginia against CVS Health last year, where former employees alleged they were unlawfully fired for refusing to prescribe a contraceptive due to their religious beliefs. In thefiled last September, the plaintiff, Paige Casey, was represented by the nonprofit conservative legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom.
Around the time Casey’s lawsuit was filed, Michael DeAngelis, a spokesperson for CVS, told CBS MoneyWatch that the company tries to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs but provides sexual health services. and reproductive health to patients is a fundamental part of the work at her foot- in clinics.
“It is not possible … to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job,” DeAngelis said in a statement. “We cannot grant exemptions to these essential functions of MinuteClinic.”
CBS News contacted CVS Health for a response to Strader’s lawsuit, but did not receive an immediate response.
Since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that established the federal right to choose to have an abortion, states across the country have passed their own laws restricting access to the procedure, with at least 13 of them enacting nearly of – the total ban on abortion. CVS and Walgreens, which are the nation’s largest drugstore chains, recently saidthat they intend to sell the abortifacient drug mifepristone after the Food and Drug Administration reversed a ruling that prevented retail pharmacies from dispensing the drug.
The FDA’s decision came just days after aconfirmed that the U.S. Postal Service can continue to deliver abortion drugs by mail, even to states that have passed restrictions since Roe’s overthrow. Although CVS and Walgreens pharmacies are unable to sell mifepristone in states where abortion is banned, the FDA’s decision is expected to expand access to a drug that was previously limited to small pharmacies selling by correspondence.