Christian Walgreens Pharmacist Allegedly Fired for Refusing to Sell Morning After Pill Files Suit

WalgreensNASHVILLE — A Christian pharmacist in Tennessee has sued the national drugstore chain Walgreens for allegedly firing him after he refused to sell the morning after pill against his religious convictions.

Philip Hall of Jamestown, who also serves as a deacon at a Baptist church, has worked at his local Walgreens since 1997. For a number of years, his employer allowed Hall to refer those seeking contraceptives to another pharmacist.

However, shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) complied with a court order to make Plan B available over-the-counter, all employees, Hall contends, were told in a staff meeting that they were expected to both stock and sell it. Hall then contacted both his employers and the company headquarters to explain that he considers the drug “sinful and repugnant to his sincerely-held religious beliefs.”

According to reports, last July, six boxes of Plan B were shipped to Hall’s Walgreens location. “[R]ather than place the inaccurately labeled Plan B on the shelf for sale, Dr. Hall decided to purchase the entire lot of the drugs himself”—valued more than $300, the lawsuit states—and threw them away.

However, after the incident was discovered, Hall was allegedly accused of stealing. He showed his employer his receipt, explaining that he paid for the boxes himself. Hall was then asked if he would sell the drug to customers. He replied that he could not. Hall claims that he was fired because of his response, which was based on his Christian beliefs.

According to The Tennessean, Hall then contacted another supervisor who agreed that “it was part of his job duties to sell Plan B.”

Last week, Hall filed a federal lawsuit against his employer and the Walgreens chain for religious discrimination in firing him for refusing to sell the drug as he had done in years past.

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Walgreens has declined to speak specifically on the matter, but says that employees can opt-out of selling products that violate their religious beliefs.

“While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we can tell you that Walgreens company policy allows pharmacists and other employees to step away from completing a transaction to which they have a moral objection,” spokesman Jim Graham told Religion News Service. “Our policy also requires the employee to refer the transaction to another employee or manager on duty who will complete the customer’s request.”

As previously reported, a similar matter was decided in Illinois in 2012, years after then-Governor Rod Blagojevich required all pharmacists within the state to dispense of abortifacient drugs, even if doing so violated their conscience. He reportedly stated that pharmacists should “find another profession” if they did not agree with the mandate.

Pharmacists Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog, who stated that the requirement conflicted with their religious beliefs, soon filed suit, battling the matter in the courts for the next seven years. The men eventually prevailed as the 4th District Court of Appeals noted that Governor Blagojevich forced pharmacists to dispense abortion-inducing drugs in violation of the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

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  • Dan

    Elizabeth, he bought them all, so no one else could. He refused to sell one pill, which is the day after plan B pill. He has a right to refuse selling this. Why does everyone expect people to forget their beliefs and rights so that they don’t offend someone else rights or belief? This is the mentality of our society! Birth control is good, but we should be promoting abstance ( no sex until marriage) I realize this is a touchy subject. But the pharmacist has his right to refuse selling a product like this and should be allowed to pass it off to another worker. Shame on Walgreens!!

  • Jay Mark

    This pharmacist was correct in not compromising his beliefs. God’s commands are more important than any law or company policy that is in force. Then again, the company allows for a person’s religious beliefs to distance himself from a compromising transaction. Bad decision on the part of Walgreens.

  • James J. Grimes

    Leslie Martin did a nice job of explaining how the morning-after pill works and reminded a reader that this article is about immorality (and a person’s decision not to be involved in an immoral act). We need to stay focused on the issue and not go off on tangents where one or more people want to intrude into God’s plan with statements such as “I think,” “I want,” or “I feel.” God is always in charge and it is up to us, mere mortals, to follow His Word.

  • Sir Tainly

    I like Angela Vessy’s (see above) point, that birth control is not banned in the Bible. I have went around with a few here including jimmy on that in other topics Angela, and it dos not seem they will be persuaded that making up ordinances in God’s name is a bad idea, but good job getting this very reasonable concept out on this site Angela! (thumbs up) 🙂

    Eventually they will have to come to reason, or just go ahead and add a bunch of brand new ordinances to the Bible.