Former Scientology film production employees allege labor violations

Worked at the cult’s California compound

Two former employees who worked more than a decade at the Church of Scientology’s Golden Era Productions enclave near Hemet have filed lawsuits alleging the church violated federal and state labor laws and engaged in human trafficking.

Church of Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis called the lawsuits “utterly meritless,” noting that hundreds of staff would boast about working conditions at the nearly 700-acre compound in Gilman Hot Springs.

A segment from the documentary ‘Secret lives of women: Extreme Beliefs’ featuring Amy, who at one time was a member of the Sea Organization (Scientology’s para-military wing). She is now considered a “Suppressive Person” and has been cut off from all communication with her family after leaving the cult two years ago. To hear the stories of other young ex-Scientologists and to become informed about the abuses by the Scientolgy organisation visit:

“Working conditions at Gold Base are nothing short of spectacular,” Davis said.

In separate lawsuits filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in time to meet a four-year statute of limitations, husband and wife Marc and Claire Headley claim they were paid less than 50 cents an hour and forced to work more than 100 hours a week. They claim they never received overtime pay or meal breaks and were required to sign documents under duress acknowledging they had forfeited their rights.

Davis said he could not discuss specifics of the lawsuits. But he said staff members agree to work on a “volunteer basis” and receive weekly stipends, with the Church covering all living, medical, dental and other expenses.

“As members of the religious order called the Sea Organization, we have dedicated our lives to the service of the Scientology religion,” Davis said. “You can dedicate all of your time and efforts to your job without having to worry about paying your bills, cooking dinner, paying property taxes or this and that.”

Barry Van Sickle, a Los Angeles attorney representing the Headleys, said the church must adhere to state and federal labor laws, including paying minimum wage, overtime and allowing proper breaks. He said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that religious entities and nonprofits must abide by labor laws, including those regulating wages and employing minors.

Van Sickle anticipates it could be 18 months before the case goes to trial.

Davis said hundreds of staff at Golden Era Productions produce as much as 300 hours of broadcast footage per week from around the world, and other materials and products. Many staff members have worked and lived at the compound for 25 years.

– Source: Former Scientology film production employees allege labor violations, Michael Perrault, The Press-Entreprise, Mar. 25, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

See Also:
• News article: More Scientology Woes: Marc Headley Sues Church of Scientology For Slave Labor
• Online book: The Sea Org — “For the Next Billion Years…” This chapter in the online book, Understanding Scientology, describes the Scientology department to which Scientologist commit themselves, by contract, “for the next billion years.” See the contract PDF file.
• News article: At Inland Base, Scientologists Trained Top Gun
• Videos: Series of investigate reports into Scientology’s teachings and practices, including its odd behavior at the cult’s compound near Hemet.

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014