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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against a Miami-based chiropractor practice, charging the firm with requiring employees to attend Scientology courses.
The EEOC said Thursday that Dynamic Medical Services Inc., a company owned by Dennis Nobbe that provides medical and chiropractic services, required employees to spend at least half their workdays in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as “screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving.”
The employees named in the suit are Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez and Yanileydis Capote, although unnamed others were subjected to this as well, according to the EEOC.
The EEOC said the company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology. In addition, the agency said the company required Ms. Sanchez to undergo an “audit” by connecting herself to an “E-meter,” which Scientologists consider a religious artifact, and to undergo “purification” treatment at the Church of Scientology.
The EEOC said employees repeatedly asked not to attend the courses, but were told it was a job requirement and that two of the workers, Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Sanchez, were terminated when they refused to participate in the Scientology religious practices.
The company was charged with creating a hostile work environment and with failing to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of employees in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, said the EEOC.
The litigation seeks back pay for Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Sanchez, compensatory and punitive damages for all named claimants and others in the class who were subjected to a hostile work environment and disparate treatment, and injunctive relief ordering the company to stop requiring employee participation in courses involving religious practices, among other types of injunctive relief.
Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami district office, said in a statement, “Employees' freedom from religious coercion must be protected. These actions are a shameful violation of federal law.”
The company said in a statement: "Dynamic Medical Services prides itself on the diversity of its staff and denies that it engaged in any improper or unlawful actions with regard to its employees. Dynamic Medical Services intends to vigorously defend against these baseless allegations and believes that it will be vindicated."
An appellate court has reinstated a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by a Seventh-day Adventist school bus driver, who contended he was fired after his employer refused to accommodate his religious requirement to leave early on certain Fridays.