A pharmacist who says she was fired by Kmart for refusing to dispense a so-called morning-after pill has sued the retail company claiming she was wrongfully terminated.

Karen Brauer of Indiana filed her suit in August, alleging the firing has caused her to lose earnings and professional standing.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a public interest law firm, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati on Brauer's behalf.

"No employer should be permitted to hold an employee's religious beliefs hostage," says Francis J. Manion, senior midwestern counsel for the ACLJ. "Both federal and state law makes it illegal to fire a person because of their religion." Mary Lorencz, director of corporate media relations for Kmart, says the retailer could not respond specifically to the lawsuit. "We reasonably accommodate an associate's religious beliefs unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship," she says.

Kmart, which is based in Troy, Michigan, also has a policy regarding pharmacists, she says. "Our policy is that they discuss any issues around medications with their district manager, and then we are able to accommodate the customer by having another pharmacist on another shift fill the prescription or another pharmacist at another store."

Brauer was fired in December 1996 after she refused to dispense Micronor. She alleges she was given a choice of being fired or agreeing to a statement that she would fill any prescriptions regardless of her beliefs. "Brauer holds the view that the deliberate, intentional termination of pregnancy is an immoral, unjustified destruction of a human life," the suit states. Brauer, who worked in a Hamilton, Ohio, store, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

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