Alexander Godelman and Marc Le Shay, two Diskeeper employees (Godelman was CIO and Le Shay hired as the Automation Planning Officer) have filed a complaint in the Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that Scientology training was a condition of employment and that their refusal to participate led to their dismissal. According to the complaint, “[t]he working conditions and work environment at DISKEEPER were inextricably intertwined with the Scientology religion such that a non-Scientologist cannot escape constant impositions of said religion.”
When Godelman complained that these programs ran counter to his own religious belief (Judaism), former Diskeeper CEO and current Chairman Craig Jensen told Godelman that his attendance at the “training courses” was “not negotiable,” adding that Godelman would become more intelligent and his personal life would “improve drastically.” Jensen also warned Godelman to not “complain about the process” in emails, which Jensen feared would be “misconstrued” and/or “taken out of context.” Le Shay was eventually fired after he refused to attend and participate in a course series entitled “Basic Study Manual” and after Godelman interceded on Le Shay’s behalf, Godelman was also terminated.
The complaint alleges five causes of action–three based on Diskeeper’s alleged violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): namely, discharge due to religious discrimination, discharge in violation of public policy, retaliation against persons opposing wrongful practices. A fourth cause of action claims that Diskeeper violates California Labor law, which prohibits employers from retaliating against persons refusing to participate in activity which would result in a violation of a federal or state statute or regulation. A fifth cause of action alleges that Diskeeper failed to maintain its statutory obligation to prevent discrimination.
In response to Godelman and Le Shay’s 3rd amended complaint, Diskeeper filed a Motion to Strike portions of Plaintiffs’ complaint, specifically, Plaintiffs’ requested remedy for…
“…prospective injunctive relief in the form of a prohibitory and/or mandatory injunction requiring Defendants to cease, desist and forever refrain from forcing or requiring any employee, as a condition of employment, to study, adopt and/or apply the so-called “Hubbard Management Technology” and/or the related “Hubbard Study Technology” in the workplace, according to proof at trial[.]“
Diskeeper argues in its motion that these injunction requests should be struck from the Complaint because Diskeeper is permitted to introduce religious training in the workplace and therefore any injunction which broadly prohibits religious practice in the workplace is unconstitutional.
It would be helpful at this point to explain the purpose of a motion to strike, which is rarely filed. A party will sometimes move to strike language in a pleading which is scandalous and has no relevance to the complaint or relief requested. Filing a motion to strike is also a useful if one wanted to stall, buy time, or bleed the opposing side of legal fees, because it extends the time to serve an Answer to the Complaint. While Diskeeper’s argument may actually have some merit and may ultimately succeed at trial, a motion to strike will likely be viewed by the Court as an improper procedural tool to confront this particular argument. Diskeeper will eventually be permitted to make their argument, but not at this stage of the litigation.
For California law on motions to strike, see the California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 435,436.
What’s most notable about Diskeeper’s motion, however, is Diskeeper’s implicit admission that Hubbard Management and Study Technology are both religious in nature, else why would they advance the argument that Diskeeper has a protected interest in providing religious training to employees? In footnote 4 of the motion, Diskeeper claims that it in no way concedes that Hubbard Management and Study Technology are religious, but to anyone familiar with both Scientology and Hubbard’s supposedly secular “technologies,” the two brands are basically indistinguishable, and indeed, the establishment of supposedly secular fronts was intended by Hubbard to be a recruiting tool.
It will be interesting to see what happens next but a trial seems likely.
If someone with significant bandwidth could kindly mirror these two PDFs, that would be great, because the below link is merely a free mediafire account, whose bandwidth will cap at some unknown point. I will keep this blog updated with the most recent location of the files.