Last week, an L.A. website reported that Lusida had filed a motion hoping to end the lawsuit and force Lee into binding arbitration, which is a common tactic used by the Church of Scientology itself against its former members.
Now, we’ve learned that Lee’s isn’t the only lawsuit filed recently by former Lusida employees, and that Lusida successfully forced the others to drop their suit in favor of arbitration. And we also now have a copy of the employment contract that Lee signed when she went to work at the company, and we think you’ll be surprised to read some of its terms.
The contract Lusida forced on its employees should make anyone think twice before going to work with a company affiliated with Scientology.
Annie Lee filed her lawsuit on December 8, alleging that she was told she had no choice but to take part in Scientology training sessions as part of her job, and after she complained about it, she was fired. She said that the emphasis on Scientology had arrived at the company with the September 2014 hire of a new general manager, Bill Johonnesson, who has a long history with Scientology’s “WISE” program, the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. WISE businesses use Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s “admin technology,” believing that the science fiction writer had discovered the best possible way to run any business or organization. (Hubbard claimed that his “org board” — organizational scheme — was something he had recovered from an alien civilization that had come up with it billions of years ago.)
On February 29, Lusida filed a motion to compel Lee to drop her lawsuit and take her dispute to binding arbitration which, Lusida’s attorneys argue, she agreed to do when she signed her employment contract with the company.
Just days earlier, it turns out, Lusida had successfully made that same argument in another lawsuit filed by three other Lusida employees who said they were fired when they objected to the new Scientology regimen.
Jackie Yin, Lenh Chiu, and Ellen Sun filed their lawsuit against Lusida on November 9 with similar allegations to Lee’s, but with some interesting differences as well. Lee had only worked at Lusida for a few months, for example, but Jackie Yin had been with the company since 2005 and he was its vice president of sales. Ellen Sun had also worked there since 2005, and Lenh Chiu started in 2008. All three alleged that everything changed when Johonnesson was brought aboard in 2014. Each describes the stress they were under after they were required to study Scientology materials for about two hours a day. All three were terminated after they made formal complaints about being forced to study Scientology. They then received cease-and-desist letters from the company telling them to stop talking about their employment at Lusida, and forcing them, they claim, to take modest severance packages that required them to keep quiet.
On February 24, however, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana ordered the three plaintiffs to drop their lawsuit and submit their dispute to arbitration. The language in the employment contracts they had signed outweighed whatever complaints they had against the company. (And a note to our readers who may be thinking about the dispute about Scientology arbitration that was at the center of Luis and Rocio Garcia’s fraud lawsuit against the church: The arbitration in this case is conducted by a neutral third party and Scientology has no involvement in it.)
As for the language in Lusida’s employment contract, Annie Lee’s was filed as part of Lusida’s motion to compel her lawsuit to arbitration, and we’ve taken out a relevant part of it here…
And finally, the paragraph that the judge found most compelling (as it were)…
Imagine you’re an employee who has worked at a significant post like vice president of sales, and at a company where you’ve worked for a decade. How many in that case would be in a position to tell an employer to take a hike if they asked you to sign such a bizarre contract?
But then a judge agrees that his hands are tied and a jury won’t get to hear about Scientology being forced on employees against their will. Sure, an arbitrator may decide that these former employees should be compensated well for what they endured. But Lusida makes sure that the details are not heard in public, and they don’t face the wrath of a jury enflamed by the idea of these careers derailed by the pseudoscientific ramblings of a mediocre science fiction writer.
Nice racket you have going there, WISE guys.
We’ll keep an eye on what happens in Lee’s case, which is before Judge Suzanne G. Bruguera. But after what Judge Recana found in the other lawsuit, we’re wondering if Judge Bruguera will be able to go another way.
Memo in support of Lusida’s motion to compel Annie Lee’s lawsuit to arbitration
Declaration of Lusida president Wayne Chin, including Lee’s employment contract
Complaint by Jackie Yin, et al.
Order to compel arbitration by Judge Mel Red Recana
Bonus items from our tipsters
Another XENU TV gem from Mark Bunker: “When Jamie DeWolf (L. Ron Hubbard’s great-grandson, and then using his original name, Jamie Kennedy) first came to Clearwater in early November of 2000, he tried to buy a bag of chips at a downtown store owned by an upper level Scientologist and was turned away. I also was kicked out of the One Stoppe Shoppe and a couple other Scientologist owned businesses in Clearwater. After filing a complaint, the local authorities said they could ban us if they want. It’s not religious discrimination because we weren’t banned because of our religion but because of theirs and there’s no law against that.”
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield