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Onionhead ruled a religion in Syosset discrimination case

“A Brooklyn federaljudge has ruled that a Syosset health care business will have to face adiscrimination trial for allegedly forcing workers to pray, chant andparticipate in spiritual interpersonal workshops known as ‘Onionhead’ and ‘Harnessing Happiness.’U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto said the program—represented by a logowith an anthropomorphic onion—amounted to a religion, and United HealthPrograms of America had to face charges from 10 workers that they were firedfor failing to go along. …One New Jersey woman, Matsumoto said, was told that‘a message from the universe or God’ required her to move to Long Island, andwas terminated when she didn’t. Two women said they were fired after disclosingthey were Catholic and didn’t want to participate in Onionhead. The judge saidOnionhead’s approach—‘chants and prayers, mentions of God, transcendence, andsouls, and the strong emphasis on spirituality’—compared to other ‘non-traditional’belief systems courts have found to be tantamount to religion, such asAlcoholics Anonymous. The judge’s ruling, released last Friday, said claims ofa hostile work environment based on reverse religious discrimination on behalfof all 10 plaintiffs would go to a jury, but she also dismissed some claims.” (Newsday,10/4/16) [IT 8.1]

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