Nurse Practitioner Sues CVS for Revoking Longstanding Religious Accommodation for Prescribing Contraception
First Liberty Institute files federal lawsuit claiming religious discrimination
First Liberty Institute 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. Robyn and her attorney, Christine Pratt are here.
Pratt says, “CVS accommodated Robyn for more than six years without any problems. It’s bad medicine to force religious health care professionals to choose between their faith and their job, especially at a time when we need as many health care professionals as we can get.” Pratt added, “With CVS’s recent announcement that it plans to distribute abortion pills after the FDA’s recent rule change, it’s becoming clearer by the day that CVS is putting profit above the health of its customers or the religious liberty of its employees. The pressure for MinuteClinic workers to prescribe abortion drugs is even greater than when Robyn was fired.”
The complaint, filed in the Northern District of Texas, is available here.
Christine comes most recently from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, where she served as a Senior Advisor on the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. Prior to that, Christine was with the U.S. Department of Education’s, Office of the General Counsel as an Attorney Advisor. Christine clerked for the Hon. Robert Numbers II, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and will be clerking in 2023 for the Hon. Robert J. Luck, U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
In addition, she worked as an attorney for the Florida Department of Children and Family Services and interned for the GatorTeam Child Juvenile Law Clinic at the University of Florida, a law firm dedicated to providing free legal services to children. She also externed for the Florida Institutional Legal Services Project and was a domestic violence extern for Three Rivers Legal Services. Christine has also held roles as an American Government teacher along with homeschooling her andJordan’s three children.
Christine earned her law degree at the University of Florida College of Law, as well as graduated summa cum laude also from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with a Religion Minor.
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. In these ways, CVS violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.”