published Friday, February 14th, 2014

TN pharmacist who says he was fired over not selling contraceptive sues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee pharmacist who says he was fired for refusing to sell the morning-after pill has filed a lawsuit against his former employer.

The Tennessean reports Philip Hall says he was fired from Walgreens in August because he wouldn't sell the contraceptive due to his religious beliefs. Hall said in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville that he finds the drug "sinful and repugnant to his sincerely held religious beliefs."

A spokesman from Walgreen Co. declined to comment on pending litigation, but said the company has a policy that "allows pharmacists and other employees to step away from completing a transaction to which they have a moral objection." The policy allows them to refer customers to other employees.

Hall was dismissed shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules allowed the drug to be sold over the counter. Before July 1, it was available only behind pharmacy counters.

When the first shipment arrived at the store where Hall worked, he purchased all of it and disposed of it. Two weeks later, he was fired.

"This was not a decision that was easy for him to make, but one that is firmly grounded in his religious convictions," said attorney Larry Crain, who represents the Jamestown pharmacist.

Hall says he was terminated after a loss prevention specialist confronted him about the unstocked boxes. He said he contacted a supervisor afterward and was told "it was part of his job duties" to sell the drug.

A handful of other pharmacists across the nation have filed similar lawsuits.

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