$170,000 Settlement in Religious Discrimination Lawsuit where Employer Required Employees to Participate in Religious Practices of Scientology, Training Ordered

 
Thursday, January 2, 2014
 
Question:  Would religious discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Dynamic Medical Services, Inc., a Miami company owned by Dr.  Dennis Nobbe which provides medical and chiropractic services, has agreed to settle a religious discrimin­ation  lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC charged in its suit  that Dynamic Medical Services, Inc. ("DMS") 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 or staring at  someone for eight hours without moving.   The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of  Scientology.  Additionally, the company  required Sanchez to undergo an "audit" by connect­ing herself to an "E-meter,"  which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact, and required her to  undergo "purification" treatment at the Church of Scientology. 

According to the EEOC's 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. 

Such alleged practices violate Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the  basis of religion-which includes forcing employees to conform to a particular  religion.  The EEOC filed suit (Case No.  1:13-cv-21666KMW, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern  District of Florida) after first attempting to reach a settlement through its  conciliation process.

According  to the terms of the consent decree, which was approved by the U.S. District  Court on December 23, 2013, DMS will pay $170,000 to settle the lawsuit.  Payments will be made to the four named  claimants Rodriguez, Ruz, Sanchez, Capote, and four other identified  class members.  The agreement also requires DMS to accommodate  employees who complain about attending and/or participating in religious  courses or other religious work-related activities for religious reasons; to  notify EEOC if employees request a religious accommodation; to adopt an  anti-discrimination policy that explains to employees their rights under Title  VII with respect to religious discrimination; and to conduct training for DMS employees covering Title VII, and specifically focusing on religious  discrimination.   
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