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Employer imposing Scientology sued for employment discrimination

Employment discrimination can take the form of religious discrimination in some cases. Religious discrimination is a prohibited employment practice under California law and federal law. A religious discrimination claim is handled similar to other cases of employment discrimination, i.e., by the filing of a claim initially with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the state agency that handles such claims.

Generally, if the matter is not resolved before the EEOC or other agency, the employee will receive a right to sue letter giving him or her a set number of days to file a claim. In the majority of cases, the plaintiff files a complaint in a federal district court in accordance with the right to sue letter. In one recent case in another state, a Catholic woman has sued a bottled water company for discriminatory practices against her because of her religion.

The lawsuit alleges that the company tried to get her to accept the teachings of Scientology. It is alleged that the company fired her after she walked out of a video on Scientology that the employer made her watch. The complaint also alleges that the company policy was to deny raises to people who would not participate in the Scientology practices but insisted instead in favoring exclusively their own religion.

The company made her ineligible for raises when she advised her supervisor that she was a Catholic and would not participate in Scientology activities. It is alleged further that the employer created a subterfuge for her termination even though her firing was actually based on her refusal to participate in the Scientology activities. She also claims that all of the other employees held the same beliefs and did not approve of her choosing to not participate. These practices, if proved, would likely be considered to be illegal employment discrimination under California and federal law.

Source: abcnews.go.com, “Lawsuit: Nevada Worker Fired for Not Accepting Scientology”, Michelle Rindels, May 3, 2016