Fired over religion?
A receptionist for a Plano dentist was forced to study Scientology during mandatory after-work meetings and told to increase business by concentrating on her phone to make it ring, federal officials said.
The accusations of religious discrimination against K. Mike Dossett, who also operates clinics in Frisco and North Dallas, were announced last week when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit.
Jessica Uretsky of Frisco said she was fired in May 2005 after she refused to adopt the practices of Scientology as instructed by her boss.
“She [Ms. Uretsky] definitely felt that it was a preaching session,” EEOC lawyer Suzanne Anderson said of the frequent company meetings.
After the workday ended, Dr. Dossett would often gather employees together to discuss patient goals and office statistics and to read from the book What is Scientology by church founder L. Ron Hubbard, Ms. Anderson said.
“There is no truth to that,” Dr. Dossett said about the accusations.
He said he is not a Scientologist, although he does use Mr. Hubbard’s system of business management and organizational techniques.
Dr. Dossett said that Ms. Uretsky, who worked for him for slightly more than a month, was fired because of poor job performance.
Ms. Uretsky, 26, couldn’t be reached for comment.
An EEOC press release said that any slowdown in business was blamed on a lack of “positive energy” among employees. Ms. Uretsky told federal officials that she was treated worse than other staff members who were Scientologists.
Dr. Dossett said those claims are bizarre since none of his employees are Scientologists. Although he said he never considered himself a Scientologist, Dr. Dossett said he has attended Scientology churches to study Mr. Hubbard’s “management technology.”
Theresa Dolaway, executive director of the Church of Scientology of Dallas, said that she’s familiar with Dr. Dossett and that he is a former member. He and the church “parted ways” around 2001 or 2002, she said.
Ms. Dolaway said the dentist’s practices were contrary to the beliefs and teachings of Scientology, but she declined to reveal more details. She laughed when she heard the reports about employees concentrating on phones to make them ring and slow business being attributed to a lack of positive energy.
“That sounds like something he made up,” Ms. Dolaway said.
She also said that Scientologists don’t try to force their beliefs on others.
“We don’t put up with that at all,” Ms. Dolaway said. “In fact, usually we will ask people when they come in if they’re here because they want to be here.”
Ms. Anderson said the last Scientology case dealt with by the Dallas EEOC office involved an Arlington animal clinic. In that case, the EEOC successfully sued the I-20 Animal Medical Center, which required employees to attend Scientology classes.
However, Ms. Anderson said that’s not typical of the cases she sees.
“Religious discrimination cases are not unusual,” she said. “It’s more common for cases where people have religious beliefs, and they ask for an accommodation.”
Those cases often involve an employee being unable to work on a Sabbath day or failing to accommodate a particular belief.
Ms. Anderson said a recent EEOC discrimination lawsuit against Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe in Mesquite is more typical. In that case, an employee declined to join in singing “Happy Birthday” to customers. Company officials told the server it was part of her job, and the employee, who is a Jehovah’s Witness, said it was against her beliefs.
Jehovah’s Witnesses consider holidays such as birthdays and Christmas to be un-Christian and do not celebrate them.
Dr. Dossett said he couldn’t understand why Ms. Uretsky, who is Jewish, was accusing him of religious discrimination or why the federal government was taking her claims seriously. He said he has never heard complaints from other employees, who have included all races and major religions.
“We probably have the most diverse practice in the city,” Dr. Dossett said.