Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Scott Pilutik writes about an interesting court case in California, where two men are suing Diskeeper, a computer software company, over forcing them to attend Scientology training sessions as a condition of employment:

Alexander Godelman and Marc Le Shay, two Diskeeper employees (Godelman was CIO and Le Shay hired as the Automation Planning Officer) have filed a complaint in the Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that Scientology training was a condition of employment and that their refusal to participate led to their dismissal. According to the complaint, “{t]he working conditions and work environment at DISKEEPER were inextricably intertwined with the Scientology religion such that a non-Scientologist cannot escape constant impositions of said religion.”

When Godelman complained that these programs ran counter to his own religious belief (Judaism), former Diskeeper CEO and current Chairman Craig Jensen told Godelman that his attendance at the “training courses” was “not negotiable,” adding that Godelman would become more intelligent and his personal life would “improve drastically.” Jensen also warned Godelman to not “complain about the process” in emails, which Jensen feared would be “misconstrued” and/or “taken out of context.” Le Shay was eventually fired after he refused to attend and participate in a course series entitled “Basic Study Manual” and after Godelman interceded on Le Shay’s behalf, Godelman was also terminated.

Here are some of the legal questions presented:

The complaint alleges five causes of action–three based on Diskeeper’s alleged violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): namely, discharge due to religious discrimination, discharge in violation of public policy, retaliation against persons opposing wrongful practices. A fourth cause of action claims that Diskeeper violates California Labor law, which prohibits employers from retaliating against persons refusing to participate in activity which would result in a violation of a federal or state statute or regulation. A fifth cause of action alleges that Diskeeper failed to maintain its statutory obligation to prevent discrimination.

In response to Godelman and Le Shay’s 3rd amended complaint, Diskeeper filed a Motion to Strike portions of Plaintiffs’ complaint, specifically, Plaintiffs’ requested remedy for…

“…prospective injunctive relief in the form of a prohibitory and/or mandatory injunction requiring Defendants to cease, desist and forever refrain from forcing or requiring any employee, as a condition of employment, to study, adopt and/or apply the so-called “Hubbard Management Technology” and/or the related “Hubbard Study Technology” in the workplace, according to proof at trial[.]”

Diskeeper argues in its motion that these injunction requests should be struck from the Complaint because Diskeeper is permitted to introduce religious training in the workplace and therefore any injunction which broadly prohibits religious practice in the workplace is unconstitutional.

You can see the complaint here and the motion to strike here. Both are PDF files.