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Pharmacist Files Suit Over Firing

A pharmacist who was fired for refusing to sell Plan B contraception is suing Walgreens for wrongful dismissal from his job in Jamestown, Tennessee. He’s represented by the Thomas More Society (not to be confused with the Thomas More Law Center). Their press release:

Yesterday, the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based public interest law firm, together with Nashville area Tennessee attorney Larry Crain, of Crain, Schuette & Associates, filed a federal lawsuit in the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of Pharmacist Dr. Philip Hall against the Walgreen Company. The complaint alleges that, in August 2013, Walgreens wrongfully fired Hall, who had been employed for six years as a pharmacist at Walgreens’ store in Jamestown, Tennessee, in violation of his constitutionally and statutorily protected rights to freedom of religion.

Hall, a practicing Baptist, entertains profound religious and moral objections to dispensing abortifacients, or abortion-inducing drugs, such as Plan B. For six years, Walgreens respected Hall’s religious beliefs and gave him only favorable reviews for his work performance. But in August 2013, Walgreens did an “about-face” and tried to force Hall to dispense Plan B in violation of his beliefs. When 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, Hall followed Walgreens’ well-known protocol allowing him to ask another pharmacist to dispense prescription drugs such as Plan B. After the implementation of new FDA protocols in August 2013, requiring that Plan B be sold over-the-counter, 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, 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. But then 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.”

All nonsense. Could a restaurant not fire a cook or a server for refusing to cook or serve pork or beef because of their religious beliefs? And to show you just how crazed this guy is, not only did he refuse to sell the product, he personally bought up the entire first batch the store had in stock and disposed of them so no one else could buy them. I’d say that’s more than enough cause to fire him. If your religion prevents you from doing the job, find another job.

Comments

  1. colnago80 says

    I seem to recall that similar suits have been filed against Walmart for firing a pharmacist for refusing to fill prescriptions for RU486.

  2. Al Dente says

    An employer tells an employee to do his job and when the employee refused for a reason which had nothing to do with his job the employer fired him. Doesn’t seem to be much of a controversy in a right-to-work state like Tennessee.

  3. Michael Heath says

    If you believed the false Republican narrative, then we’d never see liberals allied with pro-business advocates. This issue is one of those inconvenient examples that counter that false narrative.

    Another exhibit would be how many large U.S. corporations are relatively aggressive in both protecting the rights of GBLTs employees and marketing their goods and services towards the same demographic. That opposed to conservatives who seek to weaken corporate competency, results, and weaken global competitiveness; all by advocating they discriminate against GBLTs and leverage government power to infringe on this group’s right to equally access goods and services.

    One of the primary justifications for my leaving the GOP was its opposition to both policies that maximize economic growth and promote business in general, as opposed to their favoring the narrow interests of some business sectors in mature markets.

  4. dhall says

    My understanding is that he also purchased the initial shipment to the store of the over-the-counter version of the drug himself, and disposed of it, rather than let it be sold. If true, I think that puts this matter in a somewhat different light, as he essentially made the drug unavailable to customers who do not share his religious beliefs. I wonder how he would react if he was, for instance, denied the ability to purchase beef in a grocery store because the Hindu at the cash register refused to ring it up. In general, I think the courts have taken the stance that if a job causes a conflict between the employee’s religious beliefs and what is expected of that employee, then the employee should find work elsewhere. In this case, maybe a purely Baptist pharmacy . . .

  5. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I’m afraid I can’t offer a link but I have read that Kansas has some law on the books that says no one can be compelled to participate in an abortion. This law could, therefore, be invoked against Walgreen’s provided that Plan B can be proven to be an ‘abortifacient’ (abortion-inducing) drug.

    Unfortunately for Dr Hall, courts, the medical community, or both apparently do not consider Plan B to be an abortifacient. Anyone know any more about this?

  6. John Pieret says

    So, if a Christian Identity advocate refused to serve non-white customers based on their religious beliefs, his/her employer couldn’t fire them? … Riiiight, I didn’t think so.

    Religious beliefs that target “sluts” and LGBT people are “different” because the majority of believers haven’t caught up yet.

  7. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I would also add that buying the drug himself to prevent others from buying it hurts Dr Hall’s case as it may in itself have been grounds for dismissal to which the law I mentioned above wouldn’t apply. Why? Because arguably Hall was in no way compelled to assist in an abortion merely by leaving the drug in stock for other Walgreens pharmacists to sell to the public.

  8. Alverant says

    “If your religion prevents you from doing the job, find another job.”
    But persecution!!!!!1! /s

    That’s at the core of these “right of conscience” laws, they basically allow employees to not do their jobs by claiming it violates their personal beliefs. It’s not just over contraceptives either. I heard on RawStory about a law that would allow doctors to refuse to see patients who are gay on religious grounds, provided there’s no immediate threat to life. It would mean that they could say, refuse to give a homosexual a flu shot and they could catch it while searching for a doctor who’d do his/her job. Likewise a police officer could refuse to investigate harassment, vandalism, and other crimes against an LGBT person which would encourage such crimes against them.

    Of course if this law was used to refuse service against a christian, you can bet there would be protests. Yes, it’s a straw man argument, we’ve seen enough examples of it to show it’s a likely result.

  9. cptdoom says

    Chemotherapy drug, among many other products, have demonstrated abotificant properties – does he also refuse to sell those drugs? What about thalidomide, which has been discovered to be a very effective tumor fighting drug (rather than kill cancer cells, it blocks their ability to gain new blood sources so they can’t reproduce), does he demand proof a woman is not pregnant before dispensing that? Or, as I suspect, is he making himself a martyr because he objects to one product only- and because it allows women control over their bodies?

    The truth is, any doctor can prescribe or recommend any drug for any valid medical reason he/she thinks is appropriate, and nearly all drugs have more than one use. I may be wrong, but I believe the products in Plan B are also used to help women who have suffered spontaneous abortions (aka miscarriages) to ensure all the fetal material has been evacuated from the body. The pharmacist has no reason, and under the HIPAA laws, no legal right to know the reason for the patient to be prescribed or recommended any product. He’s simply assuming the dirty sluts are using it to kill their babies.

  10. tsig says

    How many different laws will we wind up with, one for Baptists, one for Catholics, one for JW’s, Jews, Islamic et. al.?

    Maybe we’ll have to wear a nametag stating our religion so others know how to treat us according to law.

  11. raven says

    Does emergency contraception cause an abortion?
    princeton. edu/questions/ecabt.html‎
    Discussion of how emergency contraception do not cause an abortion.
    Morning-After Pills Don’t Cause Abortion, Studies Say : Shots … – NPR

    www. npr .org/…/morning-after-pills-dont-cause-abortion-studies…‎
    by Julie Rovner – in 23 Google+ circlesFeb 21, 2013 – Plan B is one of two emergency contraceptives available in the U.S. i i … The constant references to Plan B and ella as abortion-causing pills …

    Catholic journal says Plan B does not cause abortions | National …
    ncronline. org/ news/catholic-journal-says-plan-b-does-not-cause-abortions‎
    Mar 31, 2010 – Plan B, the nation’s most widely used emergency contraceptive, works only as a contraceptive and does not cause abortions, according to an …

    In general Plan B isn’t considered to cause abortions.

    I’m not sure where the christofascists get their claims. They say the same thing about hormonal contraception.

  12. tsig says

    I think I’ll get a job as a mechanic then tell my boss I’ve converted to New Light Amish and my religion forbids me to work on that infernal internal combustion engine. If an old steam jenny comes into the shop give me a call at home and send my check regular.

  13. says

    Note the key words:

    Hall, who had been employed for six years as a pharmacist at Walgreens

    Plan B entered wide distribution and usage in 2006. Hall knew full well when he was hired that there was the possibility he would have to sell it to the public. If he objected, he should have said so then.

    Instead of wasting TMS’s money filing a lawsuit, Hall should borrow the money from them and start his own pharmacy. Then he can dictate religion to customers all he wants…until he goes out of business in three weeks.

  14. raven says

    NYT: Abortion Qualms on Morning-After Pill May Be Unfounded

    By PAM BELLUCK Published: June 5, 2012

    But an examination by The New York Times has found that the federally approved labels and medical Web sites do not reflect what the science shows. Studies have not established that emergency contraceptive pills prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, leading scientists say. Rather, the pills delay ovulation, the release of eggs from ovaries that occurs before eggs are fertilized, and some pills also thicken cervical mucus so sperm have trouble swimming.

    It turns out that the politically charged debate over morning-after pills and abortion, a divisive issue in this election year, is probably rooted in outdated or incorrect scientific guesses about how the pills work. Because they block creation of fertilized eggs, they would not meet abortion opponents’ definition of abortion-inducing drugs. In contrast, RU-486, a medication prescribed for terminating pregnancies, destroys implanted embryos

    Apparently it was once thought that Plan B might prevent implantation of zygotes.

    Apparently this is wrong, it prevents fertilization.

    Facts never get in the way of the forced birthers/female slavers.

  15. Alverant says

    If he knew they were selling Plan B when he applied, why is there a problem now? If his opinions changed, then he’s no longer qualified to hold that job. There may be more to this than meets the eye.

  16. says

    Since this store had a pre arranged policy that when someone needed a drug like plan B this pharmacist would refer that customer to another pharmacist who would provide it.

    Thus when this pharmacist bought all the plan b that was OTC, he violated that term of his arrangement. And what he did rises to the level of vandalism in my book.

    This gives the pharmacy cause to let him go.

    Bit in regards to this pharmacists religious right to refuse to provide this pill I have a contrary view. I think pharmacists should have such a right based upon the 1st amendment. But such a right should not apply to the pharmacy. Thus if a pharmacy wants to hire such people they have to make sure that there will always be another pharmacist on duty who WILL provide such medicine. And if the pharmacy itself is owned and operated by a fundy, tough. If you want to get the licensing necessary to run a pharmacy then you have to provide all legal drugs.

  17. Lyle says

    I wonder what aspect of my job and related customer service responsibilities I can refuse to do.

    Oh, right, none of them because I get paid to, you know, do my fucking job.

  18. karmacat says

    So can women sue this guy for violating their free religion rights? These people are so damn self-absorbed thinking the world should bow to what they want.

  19. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    It occurs to me that rather than fire this dickhead, if he’s committed to buying up the entire store’s supply of Plan B, the store should start buying up truckloads of the stuff. Problem solved: the store makes lots of money, the employee goes broke, there’s STILL going to be some left over if the store stocks enough, and eventually the employee gets cited for illegal dumping of a controlled substance.

  20. nomennescio says

    I don’t understand what bearing his supposed purchase of the initial shipment of Plan B has on this case. Barring any legal madate (prescription medication, alcohol, tobacco, etc), is it really any of Walgreens’ business screening purchasers of its products? I understand his goal was to deprive others of the opportunity to make their own purchases, but so what? I don’t see the difference between this and say an employee religiously opposed to participating in transactions involving trans-fat containing foods buying up every shipment of Oreos that gets delivered.

  21. dhall says

    When he purchased the entire shipment himself, if he conducted the transaction entirely on his own, ringing it up himself, putting the money in the register or running the charge himself, with no other employees involved in the transaction, then there is a problem. That he made the purchase in secret seems to be implied when his boss at first accused him of theft, and then he produced the receipt. I remember from the old days, when I worked in retail, that employees are generally not supposed to ring up their own purchases, for some obvious reasons. While Walgreens would not ordinarily screen the purchasers of its products, this was an employee making an unusual and expensive purchase of items that never made it to the sales floor, and did so without having anyone else involved to ring it up.
    I’m sure that this kind of thing can and does happen with regularity although for different reasons, but given everything else involved in the issue, he’s on shaky ground here. As others have pointed out, he previously confined his objections to referring customers to another pharmacist. That didn’t prevent people from obtaining the drug. Why it should have made any difference to him that it became OTC is hard to understand, but he took his objections down a very different road.

  22. says

    I wonder how he would react if he was, for instance, denied the ability to purchase beef in a grocery store because the Hindu at the cash register refused to ring it up.

    He would declare it to be a violation of his rights as a customer. And no, he would not see the contradiction.

    The far-right brain cannot understand the symmetry between its own experience and one in which the roles are reversed. It literally can’t imagine itself in someone else’s shoes.

  23. raven says

    When he purchased the entire shipment himself, if he conducted the transaction entirely on his own, ringing it up himself, putting the money in the register or running the charge himself, with no other employees involved in the transaction, then there is a problem.

    Just guessing here, but if you are an employee of a retail store, you are supposed to make sure the store doesn’t run out of items for sale.

    If he noticed they were out of Plan B (because he bought it all), he should have put in an order for more. I doubt if he did that.

    It’s probably not a big deal but it shows he is a crackpot who wants to interfere with his employer’s business and the lives of the people who shop there. And get paid for it by his employer.

  24. says

    he personally bought up the entire first batch the store had in stock and disposed of them so no one else could buy them

    What an idiot!

    But why did they fire such a good customer? ;) Oh, was it because he was a bad employee? ;)

  25. Michael Heath says

    nomennescio writes:

    I don’t understand what bearing his supposed purchase of the initial shipment of Plan B has on this case. Barring any legal madate (prescription medication, alcohol, tobacco, etc), is it really any of Walgreens’ business screening purchasers of its products?

    From Walgreen’s perspective this is all about their “business”. Here we observe an employee who is directly harming their business interests; from two perspectives.

    The first is refusing to service a customer for a particular product; pushing that customer into a competing pharmacy.

    The second, the harm you refer to here, eradicates supply for a product that is in demand with some of Walgreen’s customers. That lack of supply for Plan B will also send those customers to Walgreen’s competitors; and not just for this product, but other products Walgreen’s also markets for sale. Walgreen’s should be able to easily and empirically validate those customers, in general, will purchase additional items from their competitors as well, and not just Plan B. So by this employee purchasing the entire supply of this one product, this employee is directly affecting a loss of revenue in profit via the sale of other items.

  26. raven says

    Amazon.com

    Plan B One Step Emergency Contraceptive
    5.0 out of 5 stars (1)

    $22.99

    BTW, you can buy Plan B just about anywhere. Amazon.com sells it for 22.99 or get it from a local family planning clinic or Planned Parenthood.

  27. dhall says

    Michael Heath – absolutely right. A couple of years ago, Walgreen’s had to stop accepting prescriptions covered by a certain insurance company because of some sort of dispute. Since I had that insurance company through my employer, I had to switch to a different chain that still accepted my insurance to get my meds refilled. SInce it was one of the major insurance companies, it must have severely cut into their business to turn us all away. Although the dispute was cleared up after five or six months, I kept my prescriptions with the other chain, and seldom shop at Walgreen’s any longer. There was no compelling reason to switch back. Anything that would hurt business should be frowned upon, as there are many alternatives, just as raven shows.

  28. Childermass says

    dhall is correct that employees are almost never allowed to ring up their own purchases. Indeed a manager that allows it whatsoever is himself almost certainly disobeying explicate rules. Indeed, cashiers are really not supposed to family members as well. Corporate loss prevention people will not be happy and it is just grounds for disciplinary action up to and including firing.

    But that being said, I don’t think that Walgreen’s is going to object to him buying it, while not on company time, in the same manner as a customer is allowed. Unless there is a rule saying a customer can buy only limited quantities, then he would have been well within his rights to do so. Indeed an employee is generally can take advantage of any sale or offer offered by the store other than things like “win a million dollar” because of the conflict of interest.

    But in the end this guy was an utter idiot. As someone who has done a lot of ordering in his time, I can tell you right now that if I knew someone was going to clean me up of some item, I would order more. If he cleaned me out of it then it is certainly better than it not selling at all and taking a known loss when it expired. Also the time it takes from purchase to sale will be a minimum which is an extra bonus. In the meantime, this pharmacist gave the manufacturer an extra profit. And the more profitable it is, the more likely they are willing to keep it on the market.

    Of course I full heartedly agree that an employee must sale anything that the store offers the customer except in a manner proscribed by law. or the rules of the store. It is not the employee’s choice, it is choice of the customer to buy and his employer’s choice to sell.

  29. rabbitscribe says

    If your religion prevents you from doing the job, find another job…

    But of course it’s not that simple, as you well know. The business is required to provide “reasonable accommodation” for his beliefs. If Walgreens demanded an Orthodox Jew work Saturdays, that wouldn’t fly: there are a bazillion other employees who can cover that shift. On the other hand, a barbeque joint wouldn’t be required to hire a Muslim who couldn’t prepare or serve any of the entrees. This case is somewhere in the middle, and there are nowhere near enough facts to even guess how it will play out.

  30. says

    Lets see, this is a med that normally requires a prescription, product was mislabeled and he purchased it and disposed of it.
    Did he break any laws doing this? Was he causing problems for his employer by doing this?

  31. raven says

    Lets see, this is a med that normally requires a prescription,…

    No it doesn’t.

    Was he causing problems for his employer by doing this?

    Yes. He was causing huge problems for his employer and the customers by doing this.

    Let’s see. Robertbaden is flat out lying. Is this because he is a fundie xian? A forced birther? A wannabe female slaver.

  32. Sastra says

    left0ver1under #16 wrote:

    Hall knew full well when he was hired that there was the possibility he would have to sell it to the public. If he objected, he should have said so then.

    Part of the problem though might be that Hall didn’t know that “full well” because the store he worked in made it seem as if that possibility wasn’t ever going to be an issue. They played along.

    It would be like a restaurant accomodating a waitress who refused to serve black customers by always letting her ask one of the other waitresses to do it — with a manager who turns a blind eye to this because it avoids fuss and Charlene is a fine waitress. Charlene might go for years thinking things weren’t going to change, especially if there was never a shortage of other waitresses happy to take one of “those” tables.

    If Hall had just been told up front that no, the store was not going to genially work around his religious objections then he wouldn’t have spent 6 years in a job he was never going to be able to keep as a career. There is no other pharmacy out there which will “work” around his tender conscience in the way he became accustomed to. I can kind of understand him being indignant. Poor bigot.

    Don’t know if that’s a legitimate complaint, though.

  33. raven says

    Washingtonpost:

    Things changed in the summer of 2013, when the FDA approved Plan B as an over-the-counter medication.

    and

    When his boss learned what happened, Hall was initially accused of stealing the drugs. After he showed the receipt, he was then asked if he would sell Plan B. Hall said he would not,

    and was fired, according to the complaint.

    Even Hall himself contradicts Robertbaden. Baden, if you are going to lie, at least make them amusing. By fundie xian standards, this is simply pathetic.

  34. smrnda says

    I would say that his purchasing of the whole shipment, to make the product unavailable to others, should count as sabotage against his employer and for that he should be terminated as he is interfering in the business of the store.

    Nobody makes you be a pharmacist. If you can’t dispense contraception, don’t become a pharmacy school the same way that if you can’t stand the thought of shooting someone, don’t sign up for the military.

  35. Alverant says

    #19
    “I think pharmacists should have such a right based upon the 1st amendment.”
    I disagree. If you agree to do a job you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the job you’re going to do. If you’re going to make a religious reason why you can’t work on a given day, then it needs to be worked out beforehand and the employer should have the right to not hire the person (like say they specifically wanted someone to work on a Sunday because it was a busy day for them). AFAIK there are legal requirements for a pharmacy and if you can’t do all of them then you’re not really a pharmacy, you’re something pretending to be a pharmacy using fraud to get customers. There are certain expectations when it comes to service and one of them is that “the customer is right”, not “the customer is right as long as it conforms to the opinions of the clerk”.

  36. raven says

    Robertbaden:

    Maybe I’m just mistaken about which meds are prescriptions, you fucking racist.

    You are getting better!!! I knew you could do it.

    You don’t even know the meaning of simple English words.

    Fundie xians, death cultists, female slavers, and forced birthers aren’t races. They aren’t even ethnic groups. They are weird cults found mostly in the south central USA.

    PS You are clearly on a roll here. Keep going. It’s a slow news day. Try to get “baby killer”, commie, and “Hitler” in there somewhere.

  37. says

    I’m none of those things you accuse me of. Just like my mom was never the shoplifter the white saleswomen suspected her of being. Maybe the reason you are doing it is different, but it still looks pretty much the same to me. If you don’t like that, tough.

  38. jnorris says

    The press release said Walgreen’s had accommodated Mr Hall for 6 years and gave him only favorable reviews for his work performance. That is going to be a problem for Walgreen.this will not go to trial. It will be settled out of court. Mr Hall will be the Persecuted Christian of the Month and appear on the 700 Club and Tea Party radio. Walgreen’s will issue written policy about contraceptives, Plan B, and other touchy medications.

  39. zmidponk says

    The way it looks to me is that if Hall simply had a problem with selling Plan B, and this was due to religious reasons, provided this did not actually cause customers to be unable to purchase Plan B, as there was always another person there to sell it to them, that’s fair enough, but, given that selling items like this is part of Hall’s job, this should leave the option of letting him go at any time open to his employers, as his religious beliefs are not completely compatible with the job he is being paid to do. However, on top of this, we have the situation where Hall went out of his way to restrict or eliminate the supply of Plan B for other people, even if he, personally, did not serve them, or have any connection with them apart from being a member of staff at the pharmacy they were attempting to buy it from. This goes way beyond him simply exercising his right of religious freedom, even by the greatest stretch of the imagination, and places him firmly in the territory of ‘enforcing his beliefs on the customers of the pharmacy where he works’, and thus gives his employers the absolute right to kick his arse out the door immediately and with great gusto.

    Oh, and robertbaden, if that looks like racism to you, you don’t actually know what racism looks like. And, to quote you ‘if you don’t like that, tough’.

  40. nomennescio says

    I would say that his purchasing of the whole shipment, to make the product unavailable to others, should count as sabotage against his employer and for that he should be terminated as he is interfering in the business of the store.

    That’s asinine – I would say that you’re just trying to twist his buying out the stock of Plan B into a terminable offense because you don’t like his reasoning for doing so. What if Walgreens started carrying copies of Ray Comfort’s propaganda version of ‘Origin of Species’ and an scientifically-minded employee bought a store’s entire stock and shredded it – would you be making the same argument? How about if they carried ‘Hustler’ and a feminist employee did the same?

    Walgreens sells Plan B, along with numerous other products. Somebody bought all they had in stock. That they happened to be an employee and intended to throw it away is irrelevant. There are others here who have raised valid points about the propriety of an employee ringing up their own sales and doing so in a clandestine manner, and I won’t dispute them. Usually when a store runs out of stock of an item, they order more, so I’m not seeing the problem.

    I think his motivation for buying out the store’s stock of Plan B was a dick move, but that’s not illegal and unless he did anything violating his employer’s policies it’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that he was hired to do a specific set of tasks and refused to do part of it he didn’t like, and was terminated for refusing to do his job. Simple enough.

  41. zenlike says

    You know what is asinine nomennescio? Making a false equivalency between medication and a fucking book.

  42. thalwen says

    “This case is somewhere in the middle, and there are nowhere near enough facts to even guess how it will play out.”
    It’s not in the middle for me. A pharmacist’s job is to dispense medication. The decision as to what medication is appropriate is between a patient and their doctor (or in the case of medications that don’t require a prescription – up to the patient. Plan B is a time-sensitive product and patients are at risk of harm if they do not get it in time, not to mention losing the business customers. Reasonable accommodation I could see him allowing someone else to dispense the medication if someone else was available – not refusing to dispense it at all.

  43. tomh says

    I’m not sure why Walgreen’s would want to pursue this, given that Tennessee law
    includes a refusal clause, (also known as conscience clauses); “No private institution or physician, nor any agent or employee of such institution or physician, shall be prohibited from refusing to provide contraceptive procedures, supplies, and information when such refusal is based upon religious or conscientious objection, and no such institution, employee, agent, or physician shall be held liable for such refusal”

    Now it’s true that Tennessee, unlike AZ, AR, GA, ID, MS, and SD, doesn’t specifically mention pharmacists in their conscience clause, but rather has a broad refusal clause, (agents and employees). CO, FL, IL, and ME also have broad refusal clauses. Regardless, it seems to me that this law would make it difficult for Walgreen’s to prevail.

  44. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Could a restaurant not fire a cook or a server for refusing to cook or serve pork or beef because of their religious beliefs?

    the problem here is that Dr Hall was employed when Wallgreen knew what he thought, and it was only after he had worked for them for six years that they objected. Even bigots have rights.

    And to show you just how crazed this guy is, not only did he refuse to sell the product, he personally bought up the entire first batch the store had in stock and disposed of them so no one else could buy them.

    They could always supply Dr Hall with his own personal supply as well as the store’s supply? If he feels that strongly he could be paid in kind.
    Mind you, there’s an entertaining aspect in a Baptist being represented by a company named after Thomas More, who favoured persecuting heretics.

  45. laurentweppe says

    Religious beliefs that target “sluts” and LGBT people are “different” because the majority of believers haven’t caught up yet.

    Actually, a majority of believers did catch up.

    What happened here is merely another expression of a familiar pattern:
    • It starts with bullies who proclaimed themselves keepers of the morality proclaim that group X (Blacks, Gays, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, etc…) is “unclean” and hold -through thinly veiled threats of violent retaliation against anyone diverging from the orthodoxy- so much sway over society that a majority claims to agree with them.
    • Eventually, the bullies’ self-proclaimed moralistic rules start to be challenged by people demanding valid reasons to follow said rules. Now the importance of keeping the threats of violence implicit cannot be stressed enough: Humans are conflict-averse creatures, but no one wants to be seen as a craven coward by their neighbours: bullies know that blunt, unmasked tyranny is quick to breed rebellion, therefore they cannot bluntly answer to intellectual challenges with “It’s the rule because we have no qualms about lynching you“: they have to make up fake justifications, while exerting enough violence to keep the veiled threat menacing enough to keep the population obedient while not being so violent that anger end up overwhelming ordinary people’s natural disgust for violence and cause a generalized uprising.
    • Sooner or later this delicate equilibrium is going to collapse: either the bullies will exert too much violence (say, by sending armed thugs into northern cities to kidnap blacks and enslave them, beating up elected officials with a cane in public, demanding that abolitionists newspaper be forbidden, attacking a military facility unprovoked) and push the non-murderous population beyond the edge, or on the contrary they will hesitate too much to exert violence, thus dulling the fear they inspire.
    • Whatever the reason, the bullies will eventually start losing their “popular support”: at which point they’ll start to pass a bunch of laws to “enshrine” their moralism before the majority of the population openly rejects it.
    • Once the majority of the population, freed from the fear of retaliation changes the laws and customs, the bullies will start breaking the new rules, claiming martyrdom every time they’re caught and punished for it, while at the very same time waiting for the opportunity to reinstate their rules crush under their heel the people who challenged and defeated.

    The pharmacist’s suit is clearly a sign that, when it comes to contraception, we’re at the end of the pattern.

  46. wayneturner says

    @sc_alphanumeric

    and it was only after he had worked for them for six years that they objected. Even bigots have rights.

    While I do not support employee rights being trampled upon, I find it hard to believe that both Dr. Hall and his legal team would see any similarity between an employee asking for the right to form a union and his position. Walgreens would probably make life very difficult for employees that wanted to form a union, and I expect that Dr. Hall would not consider supporting such an effort. And according to conservative business philosophy, Walgreens is completely within their rights to change the rules, employees be damned. If Dr. Hall had decided that he would refuse to recommend any products on the ‘supplements’ aisle on the grounds that they were not FDA approved and were of questionable efficacy, would Thomas More have been so quick to leap to his defense? Would Walgreens have accepted his ‘right’ to do that. The ‘rights’ they have chosen to defend are suspiciously selective.

  47. nomennescio says

    You know what is asinine nomennescio? Making a false equivalency between medication and a fucking book.

    Okay, then use your righteous indignation to substitute book/magazine for an employee with religious objections to some other OTC medication buying out the store’s stock and throwing it away, whatever.

    Look, I think this guy’s a dick for doing it, but unless he broke any laws or his employer’s policies, it’s none of your damned business what he chooses to do with his purchases. Re-stock and move on. If he refuses to do his job then fire him for not doing his job. I’m disturbed that some people here think an employee buying out a store’s supply of a specific product ought to be a terminable offense because they disagree with that person’s motivation for doing so.

  48. says

    This case is somewhere in the middle, and there are nowhere near enough facts to even guess how it will play out.

    I disagree that there is any middle ground here. While you are correct that employers must accommodate their employees’ religious practices to a reasonable degree, this only applies to stuff that is not related to the performance of the job itself. So, for example, a pharmacy almost certainly can’t tell an employee that he can’t wear a crucifix or a yarmulke, because that has nothing to do with the job. But they can certainly tell him that he must dispense medicine, even if it offends his religion, given that this is exactly what the pharmacy’s business is predicated upon. I cannot imagine any set of facts that would put the law on the employee’s side here.

  49. tomh says

    But they can certainly tell him that he must dispense medicine, even if it offends his religion

    No, they can’t. Not in Tennessee or a number of other states that have conscience clauses that allow pharmacists to refuse to provide services, for religious reasons, related to reproductive health, without facing legal consequences or retribution from employers. There is also a patchwork of federal laws, starting with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, that prohibit employers from discriminating against personnel based on religion, including religiously based objections to performing specific job functions.

    Many people don’t realize the extent that religious privilege permeates the American legal system. Unless Walgreen’s can show some cause unrelated to religion, I don’t see how they think they can survive this lawsuit.

  50. says

    This is a watered down version of Jehovah Witness’ belief that all medical treatment should not be used, including for their children. The courts have always sided with the State when a child dies because of a Jehovah Witness’ religious beliefs. Child endangerment laws. Child abuse. The Amish have to have safety triangles on the backs of their buggies. Muslims have to uncover their faces for driver licenses/IDs. There are limits to the special rights granted to the religious.

  51. says

    There is also a patchwork of federal laws, starting with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, that prohibit employers from discriminating against personnel based on religion, including religiously based objections to performing specific job functions.

    No. The Civil Rights Act specifically exempts anything that might cause “undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business”. Not performing specific job functions is precisely that.

    Unless Walgreen’s can show some cause unrelated to religion…

    You mean, like dispensing medicine, the very thing that they do? I’d say that this is unrelated to religion. I’d also say that it has something to do with the conduct of their business.

    I’m not familiar with TN law. Maybe they have some idiotic law that would cover this, but it’s definitely not covered by federal law as I understand it. And if TN law does allow someone to shirk his or her job description by declaring religion, I seriously doubt it would survive review by the higher courts.

  52. Jacob Schmidt says

    What if Walgreens started carrying copies of Ray Comfort’s propaganda version of ‘Origin of Species’ and an scientifically-minded employee bought a store’s entire stock and shredded it – would you be making the same argument?

    Yes. Keeping customers from accessing a product is called “under-stocking” and is generally an offense that precedes termination. I might like the final outcome of someone shredding a couple dozen Ray Comfort novels, but I would never argue that the store in question would be wrong to fire an employee for doing that.

  53. nomennescio says

    Yes. Keeping customers from accessing a product is called “under-stocking” and is generally an offense that precedes termination. I might like the final outcome of someone shredding a couple dozen Ray Comfort novels, but I would never argue that the store in question would be wrong to fire an employee for doing that.

    That’s an excellent point, and the reason for my “unless it’s against company policy” conditional. I’m not well-versed in large chain retail store policy, so thanks for the term to research. I assumed barring employee discounts/etc, a store in the business of selling things would not have a reason to differentiate between sales to employees or to the public, and maintain that what happens to the items bought is nobody’s business but the purchaser’s.

    At least Wal-Mart has such a policy: http://www.leagle.com/decision/19991896755So2d1141_11832

    If an associate’s performance or conduct falls below the expectations of his or her position, then the associate is informed of the problem and encouraged to take responsibility for his or her actions. This process will include developing a plan of action for improving performance to the required level, or changing conduct.
    There are, however, certain actions of misconduct which may result in immediate termination—Coaching for Improvement will not be used to address gross misconduct. These actions include, but are not limited to, the following examples:
    • Fraud.
    • Theft.
    • Unauthorized possession or use of Company property.
    • Dishonesty/Compromised Integrity.
    • Abuse of the associate discount.
    • Falsification of Company records.

    • Under-ringing/under-stocking or ringing your own purchases.

  54. tomh says

    I’m willing to bet that some low-level manager got ticked off and fired this guy on the spur of the moment. Corporate must realize they can’t contest a religious accommodation suit, (after all, they accommodated him for six years), so they’ll come in and settle. Then they will definitely fire the manager for stupidity.

  55. says

    I quoted Tennessee law in comment #48.

    I didn’t see that before, and you’re right that the letter of the TN law would seem to give this guy cover. However, I’m not aware of anything in federal law that would do the trick. I welcome a correction if you know of one.

    I still think this won’t survive review if it comes down to it. It’s an insane law that, for once, actually does infringe on the rights of employers. (Note the irony vis-a-vis the Hobby Lobby case.)

  56. madgastronomer says

    This is a watered down version of Jehovah Witness’ belief that all medical treatment should not be used, including for their children.

    That’s not Jehova’s Witnesses, that’s Christian Scientists. JWs don’t accept blood transfusions because of the Levitical prohibition on partaking of life-giving blood that’s the textual reason that kosher butchering includes bleeding a carcass very well.

  57. dhall says

    One of the other issues that raised a red flag for me is this: when this drug was prescription only, then yes, as a pharmacist, he would have to handle it and deal with it. The company allowed him to avoid that by having other pharmacists handle it, and that was the case for 6 years. However, once the drug became OTC, he is the one who changed the arrangement. Instead of just asking another employee to handle the transactions, he took it upon himself to make certain that the drug was not available in the store at all. Some who are arguing that this is also within his rights are, I believe, mistaken. He chose not to simply have another employee deal with the transactions, and by doing so, he broke the agreement he had previously worked out with the store managers, and as many have pointed out, he may well have broken store or company policy by making the drug unavailable. That’s a whole different situation than asking someone else to ring up the purchase. Besides, I really doubt if, as a pharmacist, he was personally ringing up many purchases anyway.

  58. says

    Well, this:

    t this time, I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy.

    I will acknowledge the responsibilities and obligations that come with my role as a pharmacist, realizing I am a direct reflection on the profession and my colleagues, and will proudly represent a constituency that is bigger than myself.

    I will hold myself and others to the utmost standards of the profession by striving for excellence in all areas of my practice, always offering an unbiased, empathetic, and confidential service to my patients.

    I will be an advocate for the patient, using my insight, education, and skills to obtain the best healthcare outcome and ensure the values of the profession remain focused on the patient’s welfare.

    I will provide counseling, advice, and recommendations focusing on safety, efficacy, and adherence, ensuring that patients receive medication therapy that promotes optimal therapeutic outcomes and improves overall quality of life.

    I will work within my scope of practice and maintain an active and collaborative dialogue with other healthcare professionals in order to provide the best cooperative care for my patients.

    I will maintain a proactive stance within the profession of pharmacy by continuing my pursuit of knowledge, participating in active organizations, and advocating for sound contemporary practice.

    I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public. (source: http://www.uthsc.edu/pharmacy/current_students/classof2014/oath.php)

    would, I assume,

    be binding on any licensed pharmacist in the state of Tennessee.

    So, he’s just another fucking liar for JESUS.

    Yeah, Tennessee law may be on his side re: his religious beliefs exempting him from performing his job but the licensing authority and the board of pharmacy overseers (if there is such a thing in TN) might not be.

    I would be extremely surprised if his contract (assuming he even has one) doesn’t spell out, quite clearly, that he is not to act as Walgreen’s agent contra their business policies and that such action IS grounds for termination.

    Additionally, he’s such a fucking martyr that he skulked in the shadows instead of trumpeting his defiance of SATAN’s unholy alliance with BigPharma?

  59. Childermass says

    dhall,

    Yoo have not worked retail in a position of responsibility have you?

    If someone want to buy everything you have of something, most of the time you let them. The exception are almost always ad items. Or maybe a item that a good chunk of your customers come to your store to get, for example a restaurant buying out your milk. A Starbucks that underordered could easily clean out a Walgreens of all the 2% milk it sells in a day. But other than that, if someone wants it, is willing to pay for it, and there is no concern over a check bouncing, they will get it. PERIOD.

    Employees do have the right to make any purchase that anyone else can make. That is just the way it is.

    Lets make this very clear, stores are in the business of selling things. Stores don’t object to people buying what they have. That is what they want to happen.

    Now if he checked out himself, then he is in violation of policy and can be disciplined. If he was in charge of ordering and intentionally failed to stock the item then he can be disciplined. If he sabotaged sales by trying to hide the item or damage the item then he can be disciplined. If he shoplifted the item and it can be proved, he can be fired and turned over to the cops.If he intentionally got undercharged for the merchandise, he can most definitely be disciplined and will almost certainly be fired. If he filled his basket with merchandise while not on company time, and payed for the merchandise, he cannot be disciplined. Why he want to buy that merchandise is his own affair and not the concern of the company. Indeed the company is happy for the ring.

  60. mary says

    I think he may have jeopardized his own case. He said he refuses to sell the drug. Yet, he did,in fact, sell the drug—even if it was to himself. By putting the sale through the cash register, he was selling it.
    He may argue his motives were to make it unavailable to others. However, it does not matter, he sold the drug he said he refuses to sell.
    So, he will sell the drug if he agrees with the purchaser’s motivation.

  61. freehand says

    tsig: Shouldn’t someone tell these clients that Thomas Moore lost his legal battle and his head?
    .
    Perhaps their purpose is not to win court cases, but to be public martyrs?
    .
    RobertBladen has a good question about inventory. What would be the point of buying up all the plan B stock if the pharmacy simply replaced it quickly? (Which they would – it’s flying off the shelves!) If he didn’t exactly fake the inventory, he must have quietly hidden the loss of that item. Is that even possible with modern pharmaceutical databases? Perhaps part of his job was ordering products as needed.

  62. tomh says

    @ Area Man

    A dozen states, almost a quarter of the US, have similar laws to the one in Tennessee, so this is not just some one-off Tennessee thing. Just last year The Appellate Court of Illinois ruled ( opinion ) that the state cannot force pharmacists to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives if they have religious objections to these drugs. The appeals court held that an Illinois law known as the Current Rule, which requires pharmacists to dispense contraceptives including Plan B, violates pharmacists’ rights under the state’s Conscience Act, as well as the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. So don’t just assume that higher courts will overturn these conscience clauses. They are entrenched in the system and have been since Roe v Wade.

    And Title VII is quite clear on religious accommodation. Once the employee’s religious needs are known, the burden is on the employer to make reasonable accommodations. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with enforcing the statute, a reasonable accommodation is “any adjustment to the work environment that will allow the employee to practice his religion, such as job reassignment, flexible scheduling, lateral transfers, and voluntary substitutions or swaps with other employees.” The fact that Walgreen’s was able to make such accommodation for six years makes this an open and shut case.

    According to the story anyway, the employee was fired solely for refusing to sell the product because of religious motivations. Walgreen’s would have to convince a jury that he was fired for other reasons, breaking store rules about buying the product, or whatever. That sounds like a tough sell and I doubt they will even try.

  63. says

    “The appeals court held that an Illinois law known as the Current Rule, which requires pharmacists to dispense contraceptives including Plan B, violates pharmacists’ rights under the state’s Conscience Act, as well as the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.”

    So that means that I can tell them that selling viagra violates my religious sensibilities if I’m a Shaker? Or that I find drugs such as coumidin, anti-virals or meds for heart conditions violate the proscriptions against subverting the Will-O-GOD by artificially extending the earthly life of a “Child” that the FATHER is calling home? Or is that just being ridiculous becasue we all know that those parts of the Wholl Babble are, like the first clause of the first sentence of the 2nd Amendment, inoperative?

    There are laws on the books in a number of states, forbidding teh GAY to be married, adopt kids, etc.,. We see where that whole thing is going. This religious exemption nonsense is not a bit different. If you don’t want to dispense bonerz pillz or birth control/abortifactants, get a minimum wage job ringing shit up or unloading trucks.

  64. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    I think the issue here is because the medication is now OTC, he is not “filling a prescription” anymore. While the asinine law says that he can shove off the scrip filling to another pharmacist if it violates his beliefs (snort), with the product being OTC he is actively prohibiting people from making a purchase. Much as if someone was to refuse to sell condoms, or beer… or like mentioned above, pork or beef.

  65. tomh says

    @ #73
    The law says nothing about prescriptions, it specifies “contraceptive procedures, supplies, and information.”

  66. says

    tomh:

    Just so we’re clear. Are you playing devil’s advocate or do you actually think that this scumbag has some sort of moral justification for being a complete and utter asshole AND violating his professional oath?

  67. tomh says

    @ #75
    What does moral have to do with it? I’m describing the law and the reason why Walgreen can’t win this suit, (so they’ll settle, of course). This is one tiny example of the tens of thousands of religious exemptions, (privileges), that riddle federal law, state law, local law, US agencies’ regulations, and anywhere else that American governments make rules. In this case it’s employment law, but then there are taxes, land use, child abuse, business regulations, civil rights law, immigration, the list is endless – you would be hard-pressed to find any area that American governments regulate that is not shot through with privilege for the religious, in the form of exemptions from laws that apply to everyone else. And this trend is growing, not fading. Most people only notice it when what looks like a goofy item like this hits the news.

  68. zmidponk says

    tomh:

    And Title VII is quite clear on religious accommodation. Once the employee’s religious needs are known, the burden is on the employer to make reasonable accommodations.

    The counter-argument there is simply to point out it’s not really a ‘reasonable accommodation’ to allow an employee to not do part of the job he is being paid to do because it conflicts with his religious beliefs. A ‘reasonable accommodation’ would be like allowing an exemption for the ban on headgear whilst at work for a Sikh employee (provided there is no health or safety reason for that ban, of course). I’m not sure if this is reflected in law, but I would say that the employee has a certain responsibility to take steps to ensure his religious beliefs do not conflict with the expected duties of his job.

    According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with enforcing the statute, a reasonable accommodation is “any adjustment to the work environment that will allow the employee to practice his religion, such as job reassignment, flexible scheduling, lateral transfers, and voluntary substitutions or swaps with other employees.” The fact that Walgreen’s was able to make such accommodation for six years makes this an open and shut case.

    Actually, no. The problems only arose when Plan B became an over-the-counter medication, so they were able to make an accommodation for him not filling prescriptions by simply allowing him to pass the prescription over to someone else. However, they are not able to make an accommodation to him simply point-blank refusing to sell an over-the-counter medication to a customer who’s asking for it, which is what he said he’d do, according to the Washington Post article linked to in #15. The fact he also took steps to ensure that nobody else could sell this particular over-the-counter medication to any other customer, or, at least, tried to, is simply icing on the cake.

  69. zmidponk says

    It’s also interesting to note that, in that Washington Post article, Hall claims he bought the six boxes of Plan B and threw them away because they were mislabeled as behind-the-counter drugs. If this mislabeling did mean that Walgreens couldn’t have sold them, as seems to be the implication Hall is trying to make, then his actions have put Walgreens in the position of having sold medications they shouldn’t have sold, which could have serious consequences for Walgreens. On the other hand, if this mislabeling does not mean Walgreens couldn’t have sold them, then Hall’s given reason for buying and disposing of them is simply not valid.

  70. says

    @@ #75
    What does moral have to do with it?

    That is not the answer to the question. I asked a question in two parts.

    Are you playing devil’s advocate? If not, why the insistence on citing law which is deliberately vague in its application (if not intent)? What Zmidponk says is something like what I was thinking. In any event, if he took the oath that I included in a previous comment (or one similar to it) what part of doing his best to serve his clients is cited as being upon its agreement with his religious beliefs?

    Also; Raven mentions that this item is available from Amazon and numerous other sources. So, if my postman or UPS/FedEx guy finds out that my delivery includes “BABY KILLERZ PILLZZ!!”, is it okay for him to just refuse to deliver them or send them back as undeliverable*? After all, he’s not gonna be FORCED to do something against the diKKKtates of his particular flavor of GODbothering**, right?

    That there is currently bad law on the books, re: this issue and others–for example, trying to eliminate a woman’s freedom of choice–, in TN and other states is not surprising, given the fervor of the Teabaggist jobcreaters and the general lack of intellectual curiousity in most state leges.

    @ 78:

    Hall’s likely a good KKKristian–iow, a liar–a bad one, but still, a liar.

    * If he’s a complete fucking moron he might throw them away–almost certainly an action that would result in his dismissal.

    ** Admittedly these will be, predominantly, fundie KKKristians.

  71. tomh says

    Are you playing devil’s advocate?

    I don’t know what you’re on about.

    why the insistence on citing law which is deliberately vague in its application

    You don’t think the law is what is going to decide this lawsuit? What makes you think it is vague in its application? This is not a complicated issue. I don’t know why you think the law is immaterial. And an oath does not equal enforceable law.

  72. tomh says

    @ #77

    they are not able to make an accommodation to him simply point-blank refusing to sell an over-the-counter medication to a customer who’s asking for it

    If they can convince a jury of that they might have a chance in the lawsuit. But they will realize how unlikely that is and settle long before it comes to that.

  73. says

    “You don’t think the law is what is going to decide this lawsuit? What makes you think it is vague in its application? This is not a complicated issue. I don’t know why you think the law is immaterial. And an oath does not equal enforceable law.”

    I don’t think that the law is immaterial. You seem to think, otoh, that the only possible outcome for this situation is the one that you apparently favor. You’re dismissive of mine and other commenter’s viewpoint, that’s not something I usually see from you and I’m curious as to why you’re reacting the way you are in this instance.

    To say that the pharmacist’s oath of practice is not legally binding may be true, in that it’s not an element of the current lawsuit. However, it is unlikely that the State Board of Pharmacy is accustomed to turning a blind eye to the actions of someone who obviously thinks HIS PARTICULAR RELIGIOUS BELEIFS trump the rights and privileges of everyone else–and goes out of his way to be public about same. Maybe they don’t have any buddhists, jainists or members pf other “weird” cults that become pharmacists in TN–or sell meat, tobacco, liquor, etc.,.

    Do you suppose that there are stores in any town in Tennessee that are owned by devout muslims who will not wait on females or even allow them on the premises. And if there were such stores do you think that their “firmly held religious beliefs” would apply? What about the Santeriist priest who needs to kill roosters and drain their blood in order to complete their “devotions”. Should they be barred from doing so at a public event?

    I suspect that you will be as unwilling to address the things I hypothesize here, as you chose not to engage on the hypotheticals that I suggested upthread; why is that?. Is it that you don’t think that other peoples’ religious beliefs entitle them to similar behavior under the same laws? Do you think that anyone but this KKKristianist asshole has valid beliefs that exempt them from performing their duties or is he some sort of special case where his beliefs entitle him, and only, him to be an asshole and withhold goods and services from a public that he disagrees with, contrary to his employers’ directives?

  74. tomh says

    I’m not sure what your point is. Where did I say only Christians are entitled to take advantage of this law? If a Muslim had religious objections to providing “contraceptive procedures, supplies, and information” then of course he would come under the same rules. As for waiting on females, this law only applies to contraceptive products. As for Santeria, all I know about them is that in 1993 the Supreme Court overturned a Florida law banning animal sacrifice, stating that the Santerians were legally allowed to kill chickens, pigeons, goats, sheep and turtles, among other animals, as part of their religious rituals. So, yeah, they can probably drain blood willy-nilly.

    You seem to think I’m in favor of these laws. Of course not, I think religious exemptions are a cancer on society, but this is the reality of the American legal system. And these conscience clause laws are spreading. In 2012 Virginia passed a conscience clause law allowing private yet state-subsidized adoption agencies and foster homes to refuse to be involved in any child placement that “would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” In other words, same-sex adoptions. Such refusal cannot be the basis for state licensing refusals, denials of grants or contracts, or support of a damage claim. South Dakota has a similar law.

    Conscience clauses are widespread in education, also, witness the Missouri law which provides that “no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs.” In other words, creationists can opt out of evolution lessons without penalty. The vast majority of states have adopted legislation allowing parents to opt their children out of educational curriculum that they contend conflicts with their religious beliefs, sex education, for instance.

    I don’t mean to argue about who’s going to win this lawsuit. My point is that these religious exemptions are so widespread that they mostly go unnoticed until something wacko like this lawsuit gets attention. They should be scrutinized far more closely than they are. But they are the current law and the law is what will decide this suit.

  75. says

    tomh:

    Thanks for clarifying.

    I did not suspect that you were really in favor of this asshat’s actions.

    I DO see laws re: religious exemption as being specifically tailored for KKKristian exceptionalism. That the laws are on the books is a given–it’s also pretty much a given that they should be removed.

    Favoritism of one brand of religion over ALL other religions is basically enshrined in the laws of a country whose constitution clearly states that such is contra to the law.

    IF the Christian community “sincerely” believed in EVERYTHING that they claim is in their inerrant bible then they should be treated EXACTLY the same as other religions under the law. Which is to say the same as ME, an atheist.

    Cheers.

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