Robyn Strader made her beliefs clear when she was hired, and CVS accommodated her throughout her employment. However, in August of last year, CVS told her the company would no longer honor her religious accommodation and that if she didn’t comply, 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 in the medical profession across the country,” said attorney Christine Pratt of First Liberty, the First Amendment public interest law firm representing Strader.
“We are seeing, on a nationwide basis, an assumption by the medical community that religious persons have to write certain prescriptions and support certain vaccines. They want to disqualify and expel you if you don’t agree about certain issues. This is patently un-American,” she said.
Strader contacted the company three times by letter requesting accommodation based on her religious beliefs, Pratt explained.
CVS claimed that she never requested a religious accommodation. “Frankly it is ludicrous to say she never properly requested an accomodation,” Pratt stated. Strader sent letters on August 30, September 24, and a demand letter from First Liberty to the CVS general counsel on October 20.
CVS also asserted that Strader’s accommodation request would impose an undue hardship on them.
In the past, Strader would refer patients to the other CVS nurse practitioner for the prescription or send them to the CVS Minute Clinic two miles down the road.
In an emailed statement to The Texan, CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said, “While we are not able to comment on a specific complaint filed with EEOC, we have a well-defined process in place for employees to request and be granted a reasonable accommodation due to their religious beliefs, which in some cases can be an exemption from performing certain job functions. It is not possible, however, to grant an accommodation that exempts an employee from performing the essential functions of their job.”
“Educating and treating patients regarding sexual health matters — including pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infection prevention, and safer sex practices — have become essential job functions of our providers and nurses. We cannot grant exemptions from these essential MinuteClinic functions,” DeAngelis continued.
According to Pratt, there have never been 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 we need nurse practitioners like Robyn,” Pratt said.
Additionally, according to Pratt, Strader’s manager tried to “inappropriately pressure her” to compromise her convictions and made disparaging remarks.
According to her religious beliefs, Strader can’t prescribe medication that can prevent the implantation of an embryo, cause an abortion, or contribute to infertility. She believes that prescription contraceptives do all of the above.
Title VII is the federal statute protecting Americans from religious discrimination in the workplace. It requires employers to engage with the employee to work out an accommodation. Pratt said CVS never did.
The EEOC will investigate the complaint. If it finds that there was religious discrimination, the EEOC will counsel the employer to fix the issue, Pratt said. However, if the employer refuses, the EEOC can pursue a court action or can issue a right-to-sue letter to the employee.
Strader will request a right-to-sue letter as allowed if the investigation is not completed within 180 days, Pratt said.
“This is bad for the American people. There is no reason to preclude practitioners from living out their calling to administer healing,” Pratt emphasized.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.