Dec 9, 2015

Arcadia woman says refusal to learn Scientology got her fired in Pasadena

The Pasadena Star-News-
City News Service
December 9, 2015

An Arcadia woman is suing her former employer, alleging she was fired for refusing to participate in mandatory on-the-job Scientology classes.

Annie R. Lee’s lawsuit against Pasadena-based Lusida Rubber Products Inc. and two company executives, Wayne Chin and William Johonnesson, alleges wrongful termination, religious discrimination, failure to prevent religious discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

Lee is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction enjoining Lusida from requiring employees to take Scientology lessons.

Chin declined to talk about the lawsuit Wednesday.

“Under the advice of my attorney, I have no comment at this time,” Chin said.

He said his lawyer will draft a response on his behalf in a few days.

The suit states that Lee worked at Lusida Rubber from June through December of last year as a customer service representative.

A month after Johonnesson was hired in September 2014, the company began requiring all employees to “attend and engage in a mandatory, 30-minute class during work hours that was based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology,” the suit alleges.

The courses were given three times a week at first, but then expanded to “almost daily” last December, the suit says. The sessions were not optional and every employee was required to take part “regardless of their religious affiliation,” according to Lee’s court papers.

Lee claims she began feeling “pressured and brainwashed” into accepting thoughts, methodologies and religious beliefs that were not in line with her own faith. She says she complained about having to take the training courses, but was told she had no choice.

Johonnesson, who the suit alleges advocated in favor of holding the Scientology sessions, told Lee she had to wear “multiple hats” or she would not be considered fit to work at Lusida, the suit states.

The plaintiff contends Johonnesson repeatedly made negative remarks about other religions and urged her to “denounce her existing religious beliefs and adopt Scientology as her new religion,” of which Tom Cruise and John Travolta are noted followers.

After one of the teaching sessions, Lee says she and other Lusida employees were asked why they took the classes and what they learned from them. Lee answered that she did not wish to be present in the classes or learn any of the Scientology teachings that she believed were being imposed on her, but that she was forced to be present, according to her court papers.

Lee was fired last Dec. 18 after being given poor performance reviews, the suit states. Other workers who had the same complaints about the Scientology sessions were terminated later, according to the plaintiff.

“Interestingly, most, if not all, employees who have replaced the terminated employees have been members of the Church of Scientology,” the suit says.

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