Doctor’s Office Pays $170K to Settle EEOC Suit Alleging It Forced Scientology On Employees

There’s an argument going on now about whether the government can force employers to provide employees with health insurance for contraceptive services when it violates the employers’ religious beliefs. But there should be no argument that an employer does not have the right to make an employee participate in particular religious practices to which the employee objects.

Which is why a Miami company that provides medical and chiropractic services made the right call in settling an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit against it under Title VII for religious discrimination, including forcing its employees to conform to a particular religion, in this case Scientology.

According to the lawsuit, Dynamic Medical services, owned by Dr. Dennis Nobbe, required five complainants 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 one of the named employees 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, the EEOC said.

The EEOC said that the company has agreed to settle the lawsuit for $170,000 and take other specified relief, including:

  • 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.

This is about as thorough a laundry list of required changes an employer has had to make to its religious policies as I’ve seen, and it should be a warning to any other company that tries to impose its particular religious views on its workers without giving them the opportunity to opt out.

Read more about the settlement, and do’s and don’ts when it comes to religious discrimination and work situations.

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