In early July, Nate Pentz, a licensed realtor based in Minnesota, tweeted that a Wisconsin Walgreens employee refused to sell him and his wife condoms due to the employee’s “faith.”
Since Pentz’s tweet was posted on July 3, a social media movement to boycott Walgreens is growing, and online searches show many people are wondering if Walgreens employees can refuse to sell condoms to customers.
Can a Walgreens employee refuse to sell condoms to a customer because of the employee’s religious beliefs?
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Nate Pentz, Walgreens customer
Yes, a Walgreens employee can refuse to sell condoms to a customer because of the employee’s religious beliefs. But they must refer the customer to another employee or manager on duty who can complete the transaction.
WHAT WE FOUND
Walgreens told VERIFY if “a team member has a religious belief that prevents them from meeting a customer need, the company requires the employee to refer the customer to another employee or manager on duty who can complete the transaction.” Walgreens also confirmed that Nate Pentz and his wife’s now-viral transaction at a Wisconsin store was completed by another team member.
VERIFY reached out to Pentz on Twitter, and he said Walgreens called him and his wife after the incident and apologized. He said the company told them “it was a breakdown in training and handing off a transaction.”
“Instances like this are very rare and our policies are designed to ensure we meet the needs of our patients and customers while respecting the religious and moral beliefs of our team members,” Walgreens told VERIFY.
Walgreens’ policy follows U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on how to avoid violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits religious discrimination in employment, including religious harassment, and requires workplaces to accommodate religious beliefs and practices.
Under Title VII, an employer may use a variety of methods to provide reasonable religious accommodations to its employees, according to the EEOC. These accommodations may include flexible scheduling, voluntary substitutes or swaps of shifts and assignments, lateral transfers or changes in job assignment and modifying workplace practices, policies, or procedures.
“When an employee’s religious belief or practice conflicts with a particular task, appropriate accommodations may include relieving the employee of the task or transferring the employee to a different position or location that eliminates the conflict with the employee’s religion,” the EEOC writes.
Pentz told VERIFY he and his wife no longer plan to shop at Walgreens going forward.