Robyn Strader had worked in a CVS Minute Clinic since 2015 and for six and a half years operated under an accommodation that allowed her not to prescribe hormonal contraception. If a patient requested such a prescription, she would simply refer them to another practitioner at that same location or to an alternate location two miles away.
Strader claims that out of the thousands of patients she saw each year, only a tiny percentage — less than an estimated 0.2 percent — sought a prescription she could not personally provide due to her faith.
In August 2021, however, CVS announced it would no longer provide accommodations to Strader or other employees who had religious objections to providing hormonal contraception. Strader was terminated in October 2021.
Her complaint alleges that CVS violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it adopted this policy.
“Religious accommodation requests must be considered on an individual basis to determine whether the requesting employee can be accommodated,” the complaint reads.
“An employer cannot sidestep Title VII’s requirement to accommodate religious employees by merely labeling a particular function ‘essential.’ This label is particularly unconvincing when it concerns less than 0.2% of the functions an employee performs,” it continued.
Last February, Strader, who is represented by the religious freedom legal group First Liberty, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about the discriminatory actions. According to court documents, she received the necessary “right to sue” letter on January 3, 2023.
She also made claims against CVS based on two Texas laws.
Texas Labor Code § 21.051 prohibits employers from “discharg[ing] an individual” on the basis of her religion. Texas Occupations Code § 103.003 prohibits a health care facility from discriminating against a nurse “who refuses to perform or participate in an abortion procedure.”
The complaint argues that Strader is refusing to “participate in an abortion procedure” because she objects to prescribing abortifacient drugs.
An abortifacient is “an agent that induces abortion.” According to Human Life International, some contraceptive drugs prevent the implantation of a fetus in the uterus.
The American Academy of Family Physicians acknowledged that for women who believe life begins at conception, oral contraceptive pills that allow conception but then prevent implantation of the fetus in the uterus are abortifacients. Strader holds this view.
CVS recently announced that it will seek certification under the new Food and Drug Administration guidelines to dispense the chemical abortion drug mifepristone. Texas has laws against such a practice.
Strader is asking the court to order CVS to accommodate her religious beliefs within the context of her medical services. She is also seeking compensatory and punitive damages along with attorney’s fees.
CVS has not yet filed an answer to Strader’s complaint.
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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.