Sunday, April 29, 2018

Jury Awards $5.1M In EEOC Suit For Religious Coercion of Employees

According to an EEOC press release, after a 3-week trial in federal district court in New York, a jury awarded $5.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages against United Health Programs of America, Inc. and its parent company for coercing ten employees to engage in religious practices, creating a hostile work environment for nine of them, and firing one employee for opposing these practices.  The EEOC, which filed suit on behalf of the employees, reports:
CCG employees were forced to engage in a variety of religious practices at work, including prayer, religious workshops, and spiritual cleansing rituals. These practices were part of a belief system called "Harnessing Happiness" or "Onionhead," created by the aunt of CCG's CEO's. The judge previously ruled such practices constituted a religion, for purposes of Title VII. The aunt, employed by CCG as a consultant and fully supported by CCG's upper management, spent substantial time in the company's offices from 2007, implemented the religious activities at the workplace and had a role in employee hiring and firing.
The EEOC also plans to seek injunctive relief and back pay for the fired employee.