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Lawsuit: Wyoming boss required Scientology for employee

The Scientology Cross is perched atop the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A former employee of a Wyoming occupational therapy office alleges the owner of the business made her take Scientology courses as a condition of her employment.

Julie A. Rohrbacher filed suit in federal court Dec. 17 against Teton Therapy, a group of physical and occupational therapy offices in four Wyoming locations.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Rohrbacher worked at an office in Lander.

Rohrbacher claims in court documents that owner Jeff McMenamy declined to promote her and then forced her to resign in 2013, after she refused to enroll in Church of Scientology courses.

Rohrbacher sued under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious harassment at work.

McMenamy said neither he nor his attorney had seen filings in the case and could not comment on the lawsuit.

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  • In spite of the fact that Scientology is cult, you would think that the fact that scientologists are a tiny religious minority around the world, that they wouldn’t even think of trying something like this. Even ignoring the 1964 civil rights act, which clearly made imposing your religion on your employees illegal, unless of course we’re talking about a church or a religious institution, which this business clearly was not.

  • The article states that the employee was required to take “scientology” courses, not become a Scientologist.

    Scientology courses are offered by more than the Church of Scientology.

    For example, auditing practices are offered that do not use the copyrighted and
    trademarked Scientology names and symbols.

  • Scientology offers courses (open to the public) on improving communication skills. The article doesn’t state what course was involved but communication fits in with the nature of the company. Can an employee be compelled to take a non-religious course if it’s offered by a religious body? It reminds me of atheists being required by their employees to attend AA classes. God is a key component of the program. In many cases attending these classes requires the atheist to enter church buildings (granted there are no reports on record of atheists bursting in flames).

  • I assume that an employee can be compelled to take a course as a condition of employment.

    I am not sure what legal or constitutional objection could be raised to such a requirement.

    Ministers, priests, and rabbis routinely teach courses in public schools.

  • Requiring them to take a course on a particular religion is very strange for a private company, don’t you think? Its especially strange when you consider that fact that most of the time, the company’s employees would usually not be dealing with people who follow that particular religion, and even when they did, it wouldn’t have much, if any effect on how they do their job.

  • To see how awful scientology is, check it out on Wikipedia and also see Alec Nevala-Lee 2018 book Astounding.

  • Depend on Connelly/Arnzen to throw in something utterly ridiculous. Clergy should not be teaching courses touching on religion in our religiously neutral public schools. He has no respect for our constitutional principle of church-state separation and religious liberty.

  • Religious freedom insures that an individual cannot be compelled to take part in religious ceremonies or instructions against his will. That includes his employer. I googled the story but couldn’t find any more details. I am speculating that the classes might be ones in communications that they offer – that fits in with the nature of the company. I read the class overview and it APPEARS to be secular but who knows. If it’s religious instruction then it should be a no brainer.

    No problem if clerics teach at public schools as long as they are not giving religious instruction or proselytizing, i.e. they are teachers who happen to be clerics.

  • “A former employee of a Wyoming occupational therapy office alleges the owner of the business made her take Scientology courses as a condition of her employment.”

    “Alleges” is significant.

    “Rohrbacher claims in court documents that owner Jeff McMenamy declined to promote her and then forced her to resign in 2013, after she refused to enroll in Church of Scientology courses.”

    I have provided evidence of Church of Scientology courses that were NOT “on Scientology”.

    The question appears to be whether these were courses offered by the Church of Scientology or ON the Church of Scientology.

  • Well it is against the law, but evil knows no law. We are given free choice by God.
    No one or thing has the right to tell us what we must believe. It is becoming to common
    to try to, so ask who’s side our they on.

  • Atheists have sued to get that stopped. no one can be compelled to take religious instruction by the govt or their employer. In AA they have everyone define their ‘higher power’ as they choose to.

  • No religion allows people to take secular courses, there is always coercion to join, believe, pay. It’s bait.

  • Well it specifically says that she alleges than. It still doesn’t sound like the complaint had anything to do with her taking a comparative religion course. I would also be suspicious of any class that was sponsored by a particular church. Its not just the church of Scientology in that case. I would be worried that such a course would probably at the very least be heavily biased.

  • We don’t know enough to determine if this the case. In an earlier post I used the ‘appear’ qualifier as I am doubtful. But I prefer facts and evidence before I draw a conclusion.

  • What we post here is opinion and comment. Not science. But we hope we say things out of life lessons and research and don’t pull anything out our butts. I’ve taken secular courses at a religious science church I used to go to, there is always prayer before and after. I was in AA for awhile and went through the steps. Stopped going because I always felt worse when I left then when I went in.

  • True, in and of it self, the fact that the church of Scientology has anything to do with it, isn’t enough, but it turns out the class was being used to promote Scientology, it won’t be insufficient grounds. That’s what’s being claimed here.

  • The success rate of these sorts of suits would cause most cautious observers to wait for the trial and decision.

  • “Two ex-employees of Diskeeper [owned by a Scientologist] have sued the firm over allegations they were obliged to take part in Scientology training courses as a mandatory condition of employment…..Disklabs argues that religious instruction in the workplace is protected by the First Amendment, making the proposed sanction unconstitutional” (https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/22/scientology_diskeeper_lawsuit/).

    Also, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condusiv_Technologie

  • There is very little that the Church of Scientology offers that isn’t designed to lead folks into Scientology, even if you think that it isn’t religious. L. Ron Hubbard was a sci-fi writer turned religious charlatan. He was a college dropout who had no actual training and did no research. His writings are based on paperback psychology of the early 60s.

  • As a matter of law, the notion that “(t)here is very little that the Church of Scientology offers that isn’t designed to lead folks into Scientology, even if you think that it isn’t religious” is probably not going to fly in a court.

    A court is going to look for an overt religious content.

  • Actually … no.

    Were that the case every educational institution with a religious affiliation – Notre Dame University, Presbyterian College, etc. – would be off-limits for employee training.

  • I don’t see any evidence that your analogy follows. The courses are taught by the Church of Scientology, not a college or university with a Scientology affiliation.

  • The United States does not have anti-clerical laws akin to those in countries like Mexico and France.

    Therefore the notion that the root poisons the tree has no currency in American law.

    Read the posts and you’ll find urls to the courses themselves, a number of which are offered on-line gratis.

    The analogy is spot on.

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