Walgreens allowed to fire pharmacist who refused to give flu shots

February 24, 2015

A federal judge has ruled that Walgreens acted properly when it fired a pharmacist who refused to give flu shots based on moral objections.

A federal judge has ruled that Walgreens acted properly when it fired a pharmacist who refused to give flu shots based on moral objections.

Ronald Prewitt, 66, worked for Walgreens in Pennsylvania for about five years. He sued the retail chain after it started a program offering 20 vaccines to customers. The program required Walgreens pharmacists to complete vaccination training and to immunize customers who requested vaccines.

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According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Prewitt raised moral objections to giving the flu vaccine, contending that a friend developed Guillain-Barre syndrome after receiving one and died.

Prewitt filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Walgreens in which he alleged the chain showed favoritism toward younger pharmacists. He claimed that younger pharmacists who had not been trained to give vaccinations were able to keep their regular work hours, but that Walgreens offered him night shifts at a store a distance from his home.

According to the lawsuit, Prewitt was the only pharmacist working for Walgreens in Pennsylvania who objected to giving the flu shot. Eventually, Prewitt sued Walgreens for age discrimination. “The plaintiff proceeded under the theory that his suspension/termination were ‘wrongful’ based on his moral objection up until he realized that this claim was legally deficient,” U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel said.

 

 

Stengel ruled that administering vaccinations was a required part of Prewitt’s job. “He was demoted and later terminated because he refused to immunize customers,” Stengel said.

The judge added: “Walgreens made a business decision to market vaccinations, specifically the flu vaccine. Mr. Prewitt did not agree with this decision and voiced a moral objection. He refused to perform an essential part of his job. Though Mr. Prewitt’s objection may have been genuine and sincere, he has not established any unlawful discrimination by his employer.”

See also:

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