NEW YORK, USA – When a company forced employees to pray, thank God for their jobs and say, “I love you” to managers and colleagues at work, and worst, fired those who protested, a federal agency takes action and sued a New York customer service provider last Wednesday.
United Health Programs of America, a company based in the Long Island, as well as its parent company, Cost Containment Group, required workers to practice a spiritual belief system called Onionhead while on the job. However, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the spiritual belief system is a violation of the employee’s civil and religious rights.
According to Reuters, the complaint submitted to US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that the company fired several employees who refused to adhere to the Onionhead doctrine, which was created by the aunt of the company’s owner.
One case for example is an IT project and account manager who was disciplined after she complained to management in 2010 that she was Catholic and did not want to participate in the spiritual activities.
A month after she complained, the employee was removed from her office and relocated to an open customer service area. Her former office houses a large statue of a Buddha, as it was placed in her former office immediately after she was relocated. She protested to the owner that the move amounted to a demotion and she was eventually fired.
Sunu Chandy, the senior trial attorney at the commission said in Reuters’ report,”While religious or spiritual practices may indeed provide comfort and community to many people, it is critical to be aware that federal law prohibits employers from coercing employees to take part in them.”
As an action to the complaint, the commission is seeking back pay with interest and unspecified damages for the fired employees. The commission also seeks an injunction against the company from further religious requirements.
As of writing, any representatives for United Health Programs of America and Cost Containment Group have not given any statement regarding the matter.