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Intimidation In The Workplace

Two women who worked for a veterinarian in the Westchester County [NY] town of South Salem complained to the New York State Department of Human Rights that they were dismissed from their jobs because they refused to take classes promoted by the Church of Scientology. The classes were contracted by veterinarian Martin Goldstein from the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, known as WISE, to improve efficiency and morale

Susan K. Budleman, 25, and Karen Dvorak, 25, said the first class they attended had little to do with professional management and more to do with exercises in mind control. Fearing that the course was a recruitment program for the Church of Scientology, they said they refused to continue. As a result their jobs were diminished, they were harassed, and then finally let go. Dr. Goldstein filed a statement with the unemployment division of the State Department of Labor maintaining that the women, a receptionist and a bookkeeper, were dismissed simply for poor performance and misconduct.

Similar Case

In a similar case in Nassau County, two women who worked in a physical therapy center in Great Neck said they were discharged from their jobs because they refused to take Scientlogy-based courses. The New York State Department of Human Rights found probable cause of religious discrimination, though it will be several years before a final determination is made, said Herbert Rosedale, the lawyer who handled that complaint and who is also representing Ms. Budelman and Ms. Dvorak. [Rosedale is president of AFF]

Ms. Budelman said the first class required participants to sit across from a co-worker with eyes closed while remaining perfectly still. If the instructor determined that this had been done successfully long enough, the student went to the next stage, staring at the co-worker for 15 minutes without breaking eye contact or smiling. In other exercises, participants recited numbers and were trained to think optimistically.

Felt Programmed

"I felt like I was being programmed for something, and at that point I started to get scared," Budleman said. "WISE management uses all the same language of the Church of Scientology, and I didn't want to get involved in that in any way. It's not my idea of a value system or spiritual system, and I didn't see how this was supposed to give me management skills or tell me

where I was supposed to put a file when I was done with it." (From 'Women Say Refusal to Take Course Cost Jobs,' New York Times, 7/25/94)

Ms. Dvorak, a Methodist, said "This isn't 'let's slam the employer' . . . but it's been an education. I am not one to hurt Dr. Goldstein. My goal is to educate people about Scientology, and how it can infiltrate a business." "He's just so happy with what Scientology has done for him that he wants to share it," said Ms. Budleman, who is Jewish. "I don't think he realized he was overstepping the boundaries of the Constitution." Rosedale said that programs by Sterling Management, which is sponsored by WISE, often appear in medical, dental, and veterinary practices in the area. (From "Women Claim Religious Discrimination," The Ridgefield [NY] Press, 7/28/94, 7B, 8B)