Colorado lawyers recently won a settlement for a Wyoming woman who alleged her former employer forced her to participate in Scientology religious practices.
Denver attorney Steven Murray of Murray Law, representing plaintiff Julie Rohrbacher, announced Jan. 8 he had reached a settlement agreement for an undisclosed amount with Teton Therapy, an occupational and physical therapy provider in Wyoming. The case was one of at least a half-dozen in the last decade in which employees alleged they were harassed or discriminated against for refusing to participate in the religion developed in the 1950s by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
“Throughout her employment, we allege, this issue of the L. Ron Hubbard teachings and the issue of Scientology was constantly a condition of employment that she had to deal with,” Murray said.
Rohrbacher sued her former employer in Dec. 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. She brought two claims under Title VII: one alleging religious harassment based on a hostile work environment, which was dismissed under summary judgment in early December, and another for religious discrimination that was set to go to trial earlier this month. Murray said settlement talks “became serious” in December, and attorneys in the case filed a motion to dismiss on Jan. 2 say- ing the settlement had been fully executed.
Rohrbacher first started working as a receptionist at Teton Therapy’s clinic in Lander, Wyoming in Nov. 2011. In the lawsuit, she claimed Teton Therapy subjected her to Scientology practices, teachings and principles as a condition of her employment. These included a required employment orientation and training course called “Breaking the Code,” which was written by Hubbard and draws heavily on Scientology’s idiosyncratic terms and concepts, ac- cording to the complaint. Teton Therapy allegedly denied Rohrbacher a pay raise unless she completed the course, which she started but didn’t finish due to her objections to the forced religious teachings, the lawsuit said.