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Nurse Practitioner Sues CVS for Revoking Longstanding Religious Accommodation for Prescribing Contraception

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January 11, 2023

News Release
For Immediate Release: 1.11.23
Contact: Peyton Luke, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

Nurse Practitioner Sues CVS for Revoking Longstanding Religious Accommodation for Prescribing Contraception
First Liberty Institute files federal lawsuit claiming religious discrimination

Washington, DC—First Liberty Institute and the law firm Boyden Gray & Associates today filed a federal lawsuit against CVS Pharmacy on behalf of Robyn Strader, a nurse practitioner in Texas.  CVS terminated Strader’s employment because she sought a religious accommodation from prescribing any medication that could intentionally end the development or life of an unborn child, an accommodation CVS had granted for the previous six years.

The complaint, filed in the Northern District of Texas, is available here.

“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.”

Jonathan Berry, Partner at Boyden Gray & Associates and 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.”

Robyn Strader, a nurse practitioner, worked at a CVS MinuteClinic in Keller, Texas since 2015.  For six and a half years she operated under a religious accommodation not to prescribe hormonal contraception.  On the few occasions someone requested such a prescription from her, she would simply refer them to another nurse practitioner at her location or to another CVS MinuteClinic located 2 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.  CVS could have accommodated Ms. Strader in several ways, such as transferring her to another position or continuing to honor the religious accommodation that worked successfully for years. Instead, on October 31, 2021, CVS fired Robyn.  In Robyn’s case, out of the thousands of patients she saw each year, only a tiny percentage (less than an estimated 0.2%) sought a prescription she could not personally provide due to her faith.

Robyn has an extensive background in health care and education.  She taught science at the high school and pre-professional levels, and she has multiple degrees, including a PhD in Education, Health Promotion, and Human Performance, and Medical Physiology from the University of Toledo Medical Center; a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker University; a Master of Science in Nursing, Nursing Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner from Texas Woman’s University; and an MBA, also from Texas Woman’s University.

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.”

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Peyton Luke at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

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