Christian Nurse Practitioner Sues CVS in Federal Court

January 13, 2023
Fli Insider | CVS Federal Lawsuit

by Jorge Gomez • 6 min read

This week, First Liberty filed a federal lawsuit against CVS on behalf of our client Robyn Strader.

CVS fired Robyn—a highly credentialed nurse practitioner—because the company wants to force its employees to prescribe contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs, even when it violates their religious beliefs.

Robyn worked at a CVS MinuteClinic in Keller, Texas since 2015.  Robyn sought a religious accommodation because prescribing any medications that could intentionally end the development or life of an unborn child would force her to violate her beliefs. For six-and-a-half years, the company accommodated her without a problem. When someone requested such a medication, usually only a few times per year, Robyn referred them to another practitioner at her location or to another MinuteClinic located just a couple miles away.

But CVS reversed course, joining the ranks of the “woke” corporations rendering religious employees second class citizens. In 2021, the company stated it would no longer honor religious accommodations related to such medications. Soon after this policy was put in place, CVS terminated Robyn.

We are fighting this injustice. Christine Pratt, Counsel for First Liberty, explains:

“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. 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.”

What’s more, CVS recently announced that it plans to distribute abortion pills, putting even greater pressure on MinuteClinic workers than when Robyn was fired.

Increasingly, more Americans are being forced to choose between their faith and their livelihood. Winning this case could be a major step forward that brings relief to millions of religious employees facing this untenable and difficult choice.

Discrimination is the Wrong Prescription

Robyn is a passionate and caring healthcare professional who’s dedicated herself to improving the wellbeing of people in the community. She has multiple degrees, including a PhD in Education from the University of Toledo Medical Center; a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker University; a Masters in Nursing, Nursing Education, Family Nurse Practitioner from Texas Woman’s University; and an MBA from Texas Woman’s University.

The recent pandemic and health crisis made it clear that we need as many medical providers as possible. Companies should embrace—not exclude—compassionate and experienced professionals such as Robyn. CVS issued the wrong prescription by firing her.

What the company did is not just outrageous and wrong, it’s illegal. Federal law states that if an employer can easily accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs, it must do so. What’s more, employers may not fire, demote, refuse a promotion or otherwise take adverse action against employees because of their religious beliefs.

The corporate “canceling” of Robyn by CVS makes a mockery of laws that protect religious Americans from discrimination. Unfortunately, Robyn is only one among many health professionals paying the price of “woke” corporate culture. Right now, First Liberty is fighting in federal court on behalf of:

Valerie Kloosterman, a physician assistant who was fired by the University of Michigan Health System because of her religious beliefs. She was terminated for declining to use biology-obscuring pronouns or refer patients for “gender reassignment” drugs and procedures.

Stephanie Carter, a nurse practitioner who works at the VA medical center in Temple, Texas. The Biden administration announced a new rule titled “Reproductive Health Services” that immediately allowed elective abortions at VA medical clinics. Stephanie has religious objections to performing, prescribing or counseling for abortions. She twice requested a religious accommodation, but was told no process exists to review her request.

Beyond the health care industry, we’re also defending:

Gerald Groff, a U.S. postal worker wrongfully forced to quit because of his religious beliefs. We’re asking the U.S. Supreme Court to apply the law as written and require employers to grant meaningful religious accommodations.

Ron Hittle, a former fire chief with more than 20 years of service. The city of Stockton, California terminated him for attending a leadership conference at a church.

Lacey Smith and Marli Brown, two Christian flight attendants who asked questions about Alaska Airlines’ support for the “Equality Act.” They were concerned about the impact the bill could have on religious freedom—a concern shared by millions of Americans. The airline disparaged their beliefs and fired them simply for asking questions.

Religious discrimination in the workplace is a major issue, especially in this time of extreme “woke” cancel culture when corporations and government employers continue to defy the law by punishing, demoting, harassing and firing workers over their beliefs and convictions.

Winning for Robyn, Valerie, Stephanie, Gerald, Ron, Lacey and Marli could have major implications. These cases could impact people of faith across the country and their protection in the workplace, whether that is you or your children and grandchildren.

Taking on a major corporation or the federal government in court is no easy task—which means we’re going to need your ongoing prayers and support. We have tough legal battles ahead, but we’re confident the law is on our side.

Please support First Liberty with a gift today. It will go a long way in helping us win for our clients—and for millions of American workers—who’ve been wrongfully punished or fired because of their faith.

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