We spoke yesterday with Beatriz Biscardi, the EEOC attorney who filed a lawsuit on May 8 against Dynamic Medical Services, Inc., a Miami chiropractic business run by a Scientologist named Dennis Nobbe.
On May 9, we reported that the EEOC had put out a press release announcing that it was suing Nobbe’s business for forcing his employees to take Scientology courses that had them “screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving.”
As press releases put out by federal agencies go, it was a weird one. Within the week, the story had been picked up by major news organizations, each of them imparting little more than what was known from the press release or the legal complaint.
But we wanted to know, how did Nobbe and the government get to this point?
We told Biscardi that as far as we knew, when people file complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the EEOC investigates and finds merit in their claims, an employer has multiple opportunities to resolve the situation short of a lawsuit. We asked if our impression was correct, and Biscardi said yes.
“The case went through the process that it had to with the EEOC. The named claimants in the lawsuit filed charges, and their charges were investigated. There was an attempt at conciliation that failed. We then got involved and a lawsuit was filed,” she says.
So Nobbe, the owner of Dynamic Medical Services, had an opportunity to fix things, but that didn’t happen?
“Conciliation efforts are confidential,” Biscardi told us. But she did explain that it is somewhat rare for cases to get to this point, with a lawsuit filed in federal court.
“Not that many cases make it this far. Nationwide, I’d say only about 200 are filed in a year,” she says.
In the lawsuit Biscardi filed, Nobbe’s firm is accused of violating the civil rights of four named former employees — Rommy Sanchez, Norma Rodriguez, Yanileydis Capote, and Maykel Ruz — as well as a class of unnamed current or former workers.
Rodriguez, for example, started working for Dynamic in 2008 as a salesperson — making calls to bring in new customers for the clinic — and right away she was told she also had to begin Scientology courses which Dynamic itself put on. In those courses, she experienced the typical low-level training that any Scientologist goes through, including staring contests and shouting at ashtrays, lessons which are known as “training routines.”
In 2010, she was told that she’d also have to begin attending courses at a local Church of Scientology, but she refused, saying she was a Jehovah’s Witness. She was told that Christians attend Scientology courses, but she responded that she didn’t care, she didn’t want to go. A week later, she was fired, the complaint says.
One of the stranger parts of that account is that Dynamic was allegedly putting its employees through Scientology courses at its own offices.
We’d known that Scientology has long targeted chiropractors and dentists and other businesses through its business administration front group, the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. WISE tells these businessmen that it can teach them how to run their offices so they maximize profit with “administration technology” discovered by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. (Business administration was for some reason one of Hubbard’s many obsessions, and seemed to be modeled after his experience in the Navy during the Second World War.)
When a chiropractor or dentist gets involved with WISE, they are advised to begin training as Scientologists, and then get as many employees and even patients involved as well — which also happens to feed the local churches with new paying members.
We’re learning that Nobbe was a particularly fanatical WISE guy.
“He had his own academy,” says Frank Oliver, a former Scientologist who worked as a spy for the Office of Special Affairs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and who, like Nobbe, was involved in the Miami “org,” Scientology’s word for “church.”
Oliver introduced us to two South Florida women who also have an extensive background with Nobbe and told us about his long history running his own Scientology academy for employees.
“The academy was across the street from his office on Bird Road in Miami,” says one of the women, who asked not to be identified. Employees would go across the street for Scientology courses when they weren’t working in the chiropractic office, she says. “He required all of his chiropractic doctors to go to the org for courses. Some did auditing, some did training to become auditors.”
The woman, who worked at the academy, says Nobbe had a reputation for being a major player in the local org. “Almost the whole time I knew him, I was in the bubble, and his reputation in the organization was so large because he’d donated so much money. He was getting all kinds of pats on the back. For buying books, and helping with renovations. And then the money he was making, some of it was coming from dentists and chiropractors and other professionals he was bringing in,” she says.
Here’s a 2008 notice from the Miami org celebrating Dennis and Chris Nobbe for achieving “Silver Humanitarian” status — which appears to indicate that the Nobbes had given $250,000 in donations towards a new “Ideal Org” in Miami…
And a 2009 flier for a seminar that touts his success…
“The academy was easily as big and decked out as some of the missions,” says the other woman, Patti Thompson, who at one time was a mission holder herself — a sort of franchisee running a facility that would provide entry-level church courses. She says she understood what kind of pressure Nobbe was under to get new employees to go with the program. “As a Scientologist you have to do that kind of shit. You have to force people in, whether they want to or not. You have to get them to take courses to improve your own stats.”
We asked them if they had an opinion about why Nobbe — pronounced KNOW-bee — had been unable to work something out with the government short of being sued and facing the possibility of a large judgment.
“It’s because he’s a Scientologist,” says Thompson. “He isn’t going to act the way most employers would. He wouldn’t consult an attorney or other business people. He would go straight to the org. Scientologists don’t think with the same toolkit.”
We wondered if the church would be helping Nobbe out with representation. When we called Dynamic Medical Services and asked for Nobbe, we were told the business had already put out a public statement about the lawsuit: “Dynamic Medical Services prides itself on the diversity of its staff and denies that it engaged in any improper or unlawful actions with regards to its employees.”
Biscardi says she hasn’t heard yet who will be representing Dynamic in the court case.
“We filed our complaint. It’s been served. Now we’re just going to wait for them to respond. No one has made an appearance, so we’ll wait to see,” she says.
Posted by Tony Ortega on May 22, 2013 at 07:00
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