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Former Menomonie pharmacist loses federal court challenge

A pharmacist reprimanded for not giving birth control to a college student in Menomonie -- and later fired at a drug store near La Crosse -- has lost a federal court challenge.

Neil Noesen claimed his civil rights were violated when Wal-Mart in Onalaska released him after five days on the job. He cited religious discrimination because he refused to serve birth-control customers against his Catholic beliefs.

But the federal appeals court in Chicago said Noesen's actions put an undue hardship on Wal-Mart and the firm did not discriminate when letting him go.

Stephanie Adler, a placement worker who got Noesen his job, said he hung up on customers who called for birth control. He also put callers on hold indefinitely.

And he either ignored birth-control customers at the counter or said it was immoral and suggested alternatives.

This was after Noesen got a state reprimand in Menomonie for not filling a University of Wisconsin-Stout student's birth-control prescription and refused to refer her to somebody else.

When Republicans ran the state Legislature they cited Noesen's case in passing a bill that would have let certain health care workers refuse to serve people based on their religious beliefs. Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it twice.