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Onionhead

Onionhead ruled a religion in Syosset discrimination case

“A Brooklyn federal judge has ruled that a Syosset health care business will have to face a discrimination trial for allegedly forcing workers to pray, chant and participate in spiritual interpersonal workshops known as ‘Onionhead’ and ‘Harnessing Happiness.’ U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto said the program—represented by a logo with an anthropomorphic onion—amounted to a religion, and United Health Programs of America had to face charges from 10 workers that they were fired for 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, and was terminated when she didn’t. Two women said they were fired after disclosing they were Catholic and didn’t want to participate in Onionhead. The judge said Onionhead’s approach—‘chants and prayers, mentions of God, transcendence, and souls, and the strong emphasis on spirituality’—compared to other ‘non-traditional’ belief systems courts have found to be tantamount to religion, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The judge’s ruling, released last Friday, said claims of a hostile work environment based on reverse religious discrimination on behalf of all 10 plaintiffs would go to a jury, but she also dismissed some claims.” (Newsday, 10/4/16) [IT 8.1]