Human Resources News & Insights

Firm forced staffers to study Scientology, talk to the walls

If you always wanted a job where you were paid to scream at ashtrays and take 20 vitamin pills a day, this company would have been right for you — before it was sued by the EEOC. 

A South Florida chiropractor’s office has signed a consent decree to resolve a religious bias complaint from employees who claimed they were forced to study Scientology, the controversial religion practiced by Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s suit, the company required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays, talking to the walls or staring at someone for eight hours without moving.

The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology, read books by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and study the religion every day.

Five hours in a sauna

Additionally, the company required Sanchez to undergo an “audit” by forcing her to go through Electropsychometer treatment — which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact — and required her to undergo “purification” treatment at the Church of Scientology.

The “purification” process required her to take 20 vitamin pills a day and sit in a sauna for five hours. Sanchez fainted at one point — and then was required to return to the sauna.

Rodriguez claimed she was forced to do exercises like walk up to someone in a shopping mall, stop them and stare at them without speaking.

$170,000 later …

According to the suit, employees repeatedly asked not to attend the courses, but were told it was a requirement of the job.

In the cases of Rodriguez and Sanchez, when they refused to participate in Scientology religious practices and/or did not conform to Scientology religious beliefs, they were terminated.

The women went to the EEOC, which filed suit on their behalf. The company opted to sign a consent decree agreeing to stop trying to force Scientology on its employees — and to pay $170,000.

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