Southwest Side Dentist Accused of Sexual, Religious Harassment

CHICAGO (WBBM) — A Southwest Side dentist sexually harassed female workers and forced them to recite Scientology formulas in order to get their paychecks, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says.

The EEOC sued Dr. James L. Orrington on behalf of 10 former female employees, including three who were fired by the doctor shortly after they lodged complaints with the commission, said Ann Henry, an EEOC lawyer. The dentist fired two others after they complained to him about harassment, Henry said.

Orrington violated federal law by subjecting employees to sexual and religious harassment, according to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Chicago.

Orrington’s office is at 8244 S. Ashland Ave., and a message left for him at the office was not returned. A lawyer representing Orrington, Laurie Leader, did not return a call seeking comment.

Apart from being subjected to sexual propositions and touching on an almost daily basis, the employees were required to learn about Scientology in order to keep their jobs, attend Scientology seminars and watch videos in the dental office, the EEOC said.

Before Orrington would give employees their checks, he required them to write or recite formulas that Scientologists believe help people move from a lower to a higher state of mind, according to the commission. The lawsuit says the sexual and religious harassment had been going on since 1998.

The 10 former employees — including dental assistants and office staff — filed complaints with the EEOC in 2005, Henry said. Some were fired by Orrington; others quit because of intolerable working conditions, she said.

The EEOC made an unsuccessful attempt to settle the matter with Orrington before filing the lawsuit, she said.

The commission is seeking back wages and benefits for the former employees as well as punitive damages, Henry said.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday September 22, 2007.
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