Ten former employees of a medical-plan firm received a $5.1 million jury award after the company was found to have created a hostile work environment based on religion.
In the case, the employees argued that they refused to participate in the practice of the Harnessing Happiness/Onionhead group. The Onionhead group, which the court considered to be a religion, is a nonprofit whose website says that it is “dedicated to teaching problem solving skills, conflict resolution and appropriate behavior through emotional awareness and intelligence.”
According to the employees, the head of the Onionhead group would conduct meetings where employees were required to “pray, hold hands in a prayer circle, read spiritual texts, light candles and burn incense to remove bad energy.” The complaint also alleges that employees were additionally required to thank God for their employment and to say “I love you” to colleagues and management.
The EEOC praised the jury’s work and reiterated that it demonstrates that employers will be barred from “imposed religion on employees in the workplace.”
David Briggs is a partner in the Litigation and Employment Law practice groups. The information in this article is not intended to provide legal advice. For a professional consultation, please contact David Briggs at Saalfeld Griggs PC. 503.399.1070. [email protected] © 2018 Saalfeld Griggs PC