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Published On: Thu, Feb 13th, 2014

Tennessee Walgreens fires pharmacist for not issuing Plan B abortion pill

After years of conceding to another pharmacist when abortion products were requested, Dr. Hall, a pharmacist in Tennessee, was fired for not dispensing abortion-inducing drugs, noting his religious beliefs.

Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive Image/Video Screen Shot

Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive
Image/Video Screen Shot

According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based public interest law firm, together with Brentwood, Tennessee, attorney Larry Crain, of Crain, Schuette & Associates, Dr. Hall was wrongfully fired by Walgreens after six years of service, in a clear violation of his constitutionally and statutorily protected rights to freedom of religion.

Walgreens respected Dr. Hall’s religious beliefs and gave him only favorable reviews for his work performance.

In August 2013, Walgreens did an “about-face” and tried to force Dr. Hall to dispense Plan B in violation of his beliefs. (see notation below)

“Phillip M. Hall brings this action against Walgreen Company for wrongfully terminating his employment as a pharmacist because of his refusal to sell and dispense an abortifacient known as Plan B or the ‘morning after pill’ based on his conviction that to do so would be sinful and repugnant to his sincerely held religious beliefs,” reads the suit’s Introduction. (Emphasis added)

When Dr. Hall indicated his intent to continue following the internal procedures that accommodated his beliefs, Walgreens fired him.

“Dr. Hall’s right to live according to his religious beliefs, including in his workplace, is protected both under the Federal Civil Rights Act and the Tennessee State Constitution,” said Larry Crain, co-counsel with Thomas More Society. “Americans have the right to live according to their sincerely held religious beliefs and not be forced to participate in actions that they deeply and sincerely believe are morally wrong.”

From the time of his hiring in March, 2007, Dr. Hall followed Walgreens’ well-known protocol allowing him to ask another pharmacist to dispense prescription drugs such as Plan B (see notation below)

After the implementation of new FDA protocols in August of 2013, requiring that Plan B be sold over-the-counter, Dr. Hall reiterated to his superiors his religious objections to selling the drug and followed up with a call to the employee relations department at Walgreens’ corporate headquarters to express his concerns.

One month later, Dr. Hall was questioned by his superiors about how he would treat a request for the drug.

As he had been informed of no change in store policy due to the change in FDA regulations, he verbally went through the standard protocol, which he had followed for the past six years.

He was fired on the spot.

“It is illegal for Walgreens to attempt to force employees like Dr. Hall to dispense certain drugs in violation of their religious and moral beliefs,” stated Jocelyn Floyd, attorney with the Thomas More Society, “especially after six years of settled store practices showed that Walgreens could reasonably accommodate Dr. Hall’s religious beliefs with no difficulties.”

Dr. Hall says he has chosen to file the complaint not only to repair and redress the losses that he has suffered but also in order to prevent similarly situated pharmacists from being forced to choose between honoring their consciences and keeping their jobs.

Clarification and Emphasis added: From a representative at TevaPharm Plan B One-Step® is not “the abortion pill.” It is not an abortifacient and will not harm an existing pregnancy. If a woman is pregnant, she should not take Plan B One-Step® because it will not work. Plan B One-Step® is emergency contraception and helps prevent pregnancy after birth control failure or unprotected sex.”

Emphasis was added because the lawsuit mentions that pill by name and the language from the suit was quoted.

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