Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center Win in Court Against Former Member
U.S. District Judge rules in favor of Church of Scientology affirming religious nature of the work of Scientology staff.
On April 2, 2010, the United States District Court granted a motion by the Church of Scientology International (ʺCSIʺ) and Religious Technology Center (ʺRTCʺ) dismissing a claim for alleged violations of federal and state labor laws based on the plaintiff’s years of religious service at CSI and RTC.
In the ruling granting summary judgment dismissing the wage and hour claims, Judge Dale Fischer today agreed with the Church of Scientology that the members of its religious order, known as the Sea Organization, which is comprised of the Church’s most dedicated members, are not subject to labor laws. Because the plaintiff chose to join a religious institution under her Church’s doctrine, her work was not subject to the payment of wages, the Court stated. Judge Fischer specifically found that the plaintiff ʺwas employed by a religious institution,ʺ that is, Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center, ʺwas chosen for her position based largely on religious criteria,ʺ and ʺperformed religious duties and responsibilities.ʺ The Court stated that like members of other religious orders, the plaintiff was only able to hold these positions based on her commitment to Scientology.
The plaintiff was a member of the Sea Organization from 1991 until 2005. During her years in the Sea Organization, the plaintiff held many positions within Scientology. Both CSI and RTC are recognized as churches by the IRS. The Sea Organization is a religious order for the Scientology religion and is composed of the most dedicated Scientologists in the world—individuals who have committed their lives to the volunteer service of their religion. The first Sea Organization members formulated the one‐billion‐year pledge to symbolize their eternal commitment to the religion, still signed by all members today. As volunteers and members of a religious order, Sea Organization members work long hours and live communally with housing, meals, uniforms, medical and dental care, transport and all expenses associated with their duties provided by the Church. They also receive a small allowance to purchase personal items, as all of their other expenses are fully covered by the Church.
Sea Organization members are at the forefront of spearheading the Churchʹs massive social mission, including the largest non‐governmental drug education campaign on Earth, the largest human rights education campaign on Earth and many more programs that touch the lives of everyone. Today, some 6,000 members of the Sea Organization occupy staff positions in upper‐level Scientology Church organizations around the world, ensuring that the religion is available to the millions of Scientology parishioners who live and work outside the Church.
CSI and RTC note that while the plaintiff has chosen to litigate her case in the media, the Churches will continue to present their case in court.