May 2, 2016

Fired for Rejecting Scientology, Woman Says

Courthouse News Service
May 02, 2016

Courthouse News Service
LAS VEGAS (CN) — A Las Vegas water company gave raises only to employees who took Scientology courses, and fired a "brand ambassador" who wouldn't do it, she claims in court.

Grecia Echevarria-Hernandez grew up Roman Catholic and thought she had landed a good job, until she was fired for declining to watch Scientology video courses, she says in her April 26 federal lawsuit against dba Real Alkalized Water.

Echevarria says the company hired her to be a brand ambassador at its Las Vegas office in March 2015.

Upon hiring, she says, she was forced to watch several videos about the Scientology religion. A manager told her she would receive a 25 cents-per-hour raise for each self-betterment course she completed, all of which "overtly promoted" the Church of Scientology.

Echevarria says she did her work "admirably," but her supervisors "did not see the videos as optional" and repeatedly mentioned them over the next five months.

She told a manager she is Catholic, "not a Scientologist," that she "believes in God, was baptized Catholic and attends a Christian church" and would not participate in the claimed self-betterment courses.

As a result, she says she was ineligible for raises, her coworkers treated her differently, and the "workplace environment became extremely unpleasant."
She says her co-workers "clearly did not approve of her choice not to participate" in the Scientology courses.

Echevarria says she continued to work hard and "ignore the hostile nature of her coworkers and superiors," but the manager who encouraged her to complete the Scientology videos fired her in October, claiming poor job performance.
Echevarria says none of the other managers wrote her up before she was fired, and that she was fired due to her "differing religious views."

She seeks punitive damages for discrimination, retaliation and tortious discharge.

Her attorney, Joseph Gutierrez, said he does not know whether the business is a front for the Church of Scientology.

Officials for Real Alkalized Water did not respond to a telephone request for comment on Friday.

In its Internet ads, the company touts its water as "infused with negative ions to give you a powerful antioxidant effect within every bottle you drink!" It also posts photos of celebrity endorsers on the website.

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