Keller nurse practitioner fired by CVS for pro-life religious beliefs

A nurse practitioner who had worked for a CVS Minute Clinic in Keller for more than six years has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against the pharmacy chain for failing to consider of his religious beliefs regarding the prescription of contraceptives.

Robyn Strader made her beliefs clear when she was hired, and CVS welcomed her throughout her employment. However, in August last year, CVS told her that the company would no longer honor her religious accommodation and that if she did not, her employment would be terminated. She was fired on October 31.

“Robyn’s story is so much bigger. She is an example of what is happening to thousands of people in the medical profession across the country,” said attorney Christine Pratt of First Liberty, the law firm of the First Amendment representing Strader.

“We are seeing, nationwide, an assumption from the medical community that religious people have to write certain prescriptions and pay for certain vaccines. They want to disqualify you and expel you if you disagree on certain issues. It’s blatantly un-American,” she said.

Strader contacted the company three times by letter requesting an accommodation based on his religious beliefs, Pratt said.

CVS claimed that she never requested religious accommodation. “Frankly, it’s ridiculous to say that she never properly applied for housing,” Pratt said. Strader sent letters on August 30, September 24, and a demand letter from First Liberty to CVS’s general counsel on October 20.

CVS also claimed that Strader’s request for accommodation would impose undue hardship on them.

In the past, Strader referred patients to the other CVS nurse practitioner for the prescription or sent them to the CVS Minute Clinic two miles down the road.

In a statement emailed to The Texan, CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said, “While we are unable to comment on a specific complaint filed with the EEOC, we have a well-defined process in place for employees to request and to obtain a reasonable accommodation because of their religious beliefs, which in some cases may be an exemption from exercising certain professional functions. However, it is not possible to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of his or her job.

“Educating and treating patients about sexual health issues – including pregnancy prevention, prevention of sexually transmitted infections, and safer sex practices – have become core functions of the work of our providers and nurses. We cannot grant exemptions from these essential MinuteClinic functions,” DeAngelis continued.

According to Pratt, there were never any issues with Stader’s job performance or employment.

“Robyn is a wonderful, caring, compassionate and intelligent nurse practitioner. CVS fired her at a time when we need nurse practitioners like Robyn,” Pratt said.

Additionally, according to Pratt, Strader’s manager attempted to “inappropriately pressure her” into compromising her beliefs and made derogatory remarks.

According to his religious beliefs, Strader cannot prescribe drugs that can prevent the implantation of an embryo, induce an abortion or contribute to infertility. She thinks prescription contraceptives do all of the above.

Title VII is the federal law protecting Americans against religious discrimination in the workplace. It requires employers to engage with the employee to find an accommodation. Pratt said CVS never did.

The EEOC will investigate the complaint. If it finds that there has been religious discrimination, the EEOC will advise the employer to address the issue, Pratt said. However, if the employer refuses, the EEOC may take legal action or may issue a letter of right to sue to the employee.

Strader will request a letter of right to proceed as authorized if the investigation is not completed within 180 days, Pratt said.

“This is bad for the American people. There is no reason to prevent practitioners from living their call to administer healing,” Pratt emphasized.

Ruth R. Culp