Author Topic: [Google] Scientologists sue organisation for $1 million for slave wages -  (Read 2397 times)

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Scientologists sue organisation for $1 million for slave wages -
Tom Leonard in New York
9 April 2010, 1:15 pm

In the test case against the US-based Church of Scientology, Marc Headley and his wife, Claire, have told how they were treated like slaves and forced to work 20-hour days almost continually through the year.

Mrs Headley claims she was coerced into having an abortion, while Mr Headley has spoken about how he was subjected to a strange mind-control practise by the actor Tom Cruise.
Both were members of Sea Org, the Scientologists' "religious order" and a supposedly elite vanguard made up of its most dedicated recruits, and signed up to the religion when they were still teenagers.

Members of the order sign a billion-year pledge of loyalty, promise not to have children, and live and work communally.

Mr Headley, 36, says he devoted half his life to Scientology but started to question it while earning 39 cents an hour mass-producing cassettes which, he said, the organisation paid $1 to make but sold for $75. In 15 years, he earned just $29,000, he said.

Now, the couple are seeking back pay and overtime that their lawyer says could amount to $1 million (£660,000) each from the organisation, which was founded in 1953 by the sci-fi writer L Ron Hubbard.

Barry Van Sickle, a California lawyer who represents the Headleys, said: "This is a test case. We didn't do this to make a big bunch of money for the Headleys."

"The idea was that if we could make [the Scientologists] comply with the labour laws, people could get some sleep at night, have some money in their pocket and be harder to control."

The Scientology organisation has denied all the allegations and says the plaintiffs are liars motivated by greed.

But whatever the outcome of the trial, which is scheduled to start in January, the Headleys have already become a thorn in the side of their former church.

Mr Headley, who described in a book how Scientology security guards chased him after he tried to escape the compound.

He also described how, in 1990, he was reassigned so Cruise could practice auditing – the organisation's signature counselling technique – on him.

According to Mr Headley, Cruise spent three weeks practising so-called "upper indoctrination training routines" in which – for hours on end – he would instruct him to speak to a book, bottle and ashtray, even giving the objects orders.

"You tell the ashtray, 'Sit in that chair'. Then you actually go over and put the ashtray on a chair," Mr Headley told the New York newspaper Village Voice.

He said the routine was supposed to "rehabilitate your ability to control things".

Some believe Scientology would suffer heavily without its Sea Org workforce and Mr Headley said the church was terrified that members might try to leave.

He said he lived with 24-hour surveillance, roll call three times a day and censored post.

Sea Org, short for Sea Organisation, was set up by Hubbard to accompany him on his proselytising sea journeys. It members – said by the church to number 6,000 – still sometimes wear pseudo-naval uniforms.

Although they work at all major Scientology centres including Saint Hill, its British HQ Near East Grinstead, many Sea Org members are based at a 500-acre gated compound outside Los Angeles.

Mr Van Sickle said he had an ex-Scientologist client who first signed a Sea Org contract when he was only four years old.

"When you're 15 or 16-years-old, as the Headleys were, they take you out of your home and out of high school, and make you a bunch of promises," said Mr Van Sickle.

He said he was surprised to find that Sea Org members who served In it for 15 years were still on the bottom Scientology rung. "It's a slave labour force that the leaders have no intention of letting rise up the ladder," he said.

Scientology has recently come under attack around the world. It was denounced in the Australian parliament and narrowly escaped being banned in France after being prosecuted for fraud.

It suffered a high-profile defection last October when the Hollywood director Paul Haggis left, claiming it was homophobic and its officials had lied about its practices.

A week ago, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed part of Mrs Headley's suit, siding with the Scientologists' contention that she was exempt from wage requirements because she was part of a religious order.

However, Barry Van Sickle, a California lawyer who represents the Headleys, said that the ruling did not address two more serious claims – that the "church" coerces Sea Org members to get abortions and that it engages in forced labour.

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« Last Edit: April 10, 2010, 08:34 by mefree »
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Judge dismisses two lawsuits aimed at Scientology -
5 August 2010, 11:31 pm

The Church of Scientology won an important victory in federal court Thursday when a judge dismissed two lawsuits that accused the church of labor law violations, human trafficking and forced abortions.

Claire and Marc Headley, who left Scientology in 2005, said the church controlled them with threats of harsh punishment and other tactics that prevented them from leaving the Sea Organization, Scientology's religious order.

But U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer ruled that the Sea Org is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion.

The judge ruled that the Headleys performed religious duties and that the Sea Org falls within the "ministerial exception'' commonly granted to religious groups in employment cases. The exception prevents the court from prying into the church's internal workings to get to the bottom of the Headleys' allegations.

Continuing the case, the judge wrote, would require the court to analyze "the reasonableness of the methods" used to discipline Sea Org members and to prevent them from leaving. As for Claire Headley's allegation that she was forced to have two abortions, Fischer said the court would have had to review Scientology's doctrine prohibiting Sea Org members from raising children.

"Inquiry into these allegations would entangle the court in the religious doctrine of Scientology and the doctrinally motivated practices of the Sea Org," wrote Fischer, a judge in the Central District of California.

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« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 13:33 by mefree »
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Scientology wins legal victory, loses public image war -
7 August 2010, 11:41 am
Skepticism Examiner -Charles McAlpin

A Scientology legal victory  on August 5th might not actually be cause for celebration within the Church.  The court protected Scientology's freedom from inquiry into human trafficking charges, as well as the church's right to deny fair labor practices to its ministers. Meanwhile, the alleged abuses themselves, which the church once tried to hide, have again become a matter of public record.

In the cases of Marc Headley- and Claire Headley vs. the Church of Scientology, et. al, the church successfully convinced U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer that its bizarre, and seemingly abusive, labor practices are protected by the First Amendment under a principle known as "ministerial exception."  Under this principle, as long as an employee fits a broad legal description of a "minister," the employee is not protected by most labor or discrimination laws.  The court determined that members of the church's paramilitary branch, the "Sea Org," fit that definition of "minister."

In a legally affirming but socially damning decision, the court stated that "determining whether Scientology's practices of routing out, censorship, or heavy manual labor as a form of discipline...constitute involuntary precisely the type of entanglement that the Religion Clauses prohibit."  The practices themselves are not denied, however, and the court does not say that they would not constitute involuntary servitude.

The church seems not to have noticed this important reality.  In a post-decision letter to the Saint Petersburg Times, Scientology spokesperon Tommy Davis boasted that the Headleys  "sued claiming that they had been deprived of monetary compensation and subjected to church discipline and lifestyle constraints that are part of the commitment of Scientology religious ministers.  The District Court emphatically rejected all such claims, holding that the First Amendment prohibits the state or its courts from evaluating the religious life voluntarily undertaken by ministers and members of religious orders, or determining the nature of the relationship between a church and its ministers."

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Will Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC Give Hope to the Headleys?

More from tikk at

Legal Update II: the Headleys

A case before the U.S. Supreme Court in October could play a key role in lawsuits filed against Scientology by former members of its Sea Organization.

More from Jonny Jacobson at

The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama

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I sure hope so, mefree
I am a volunteer advocate for victims of the Narconon scam. I am a former scientologist. I post anonymously. Mary McConnell is my long time nom de plume. Feel free to contact me for assistance in righting the wrongs.