Search Site
Menu
Jury Awards $5.1 Million to Workers Subjected to ‘Onionhead’ Religion

A U.S. District Court in Brooklyn awarded $5.1 million to 10 workers who claimed their employer, United Health Programs of American, Inc., forced them to participate in group prayers and various other types of religious activities associated with the “Onionhead” religion.

According to the workers’ lawsuit, the company, which provides customer service for health insurance providers, coerced its employees to engage in ongoing religious activities, such as group prayers, spiritual discussions and candle burning. The behavior had occurred since 2007.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said these practices were a part of a belief system created by the family members of the defendants called “Onionhead.” Employees were told to wear Onionhead buttons, place the religion’s cards near work areas and keep lighting dim in the workplace. None of these activities were related to work.

The jury determined the defendants were in violation of federal law by enforcing these religious practices in the workplace and that they created a hostile work environment for nine of the 10. The tenth employee had been fired as retaliation for opposing the practices.

Employers must avoid pushing religious issues

Religion is a protected class in the United States, and employers are not allowed to discriminate based on religious affiliation in any way. This includes forcing employees to participate in religious practices and punishing those who do not.

In most cases, the courts only become aware of these issues because an employee gathers the courage to speak up. If you are aware of wrongdoing within your organization and would like to file a whistleblower claim, work with an experienced Dallas attorney at Kardell Law Group.

Honors
Our Office
  • Dallas Office
    4514 Cole Ave
    #600
    Dallas, Texas 75205
    Phone: 214-306-8045
    Fax: 469-729-9926
Testimonials
  • "Steve Kardell was terrific in representing me in some very adversarial discussions with Citigroup and also later represented me in my testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission."  -Richard Bowen, Citigroup Whistleblower

  • "Never thought my career would end like it did after 30 years of service. I was part of the first round of the so called reduction of force. I asked myself how can I be part of this with 30 years of seniority. How did they pick these 90 plus employees? Now, the culture of this organization made you question every decision they made. It wasn’t what you knew it’s was a culture of who you know. Nonetheless, I did not accept their severance package. I immediately starting looking for an attorney who would take on my case. After the initial call to Steve I had hope again. He was open and honest about everything and reassured me he would do his best for me, and he did. I had an awesome outcome. Thanks Steve you’re the best."  -S.S.

  • "Reaching out to Steve Kardell was the best decision I made. His ability to provide immediate insight and direction was very powerful, and a huge relief during a very stressful time period. For anyone struggling with a whistleblower situation, I would highly recommend at least speaking with Steve. After a 10 minute call with him, I had a better understanding of what I was dealing with. Even better, he gave me some immediate hope. In the end Steve did a better job than I thought was possible. Steve was able to get in contact with people in my organization, that I didn’t have access to. Because of his years of experience, he already has contacts in many organizations in Dallas. The entire situation was handled peacefully. I was impressed by his ability to “keep the peace”–rather than creating a battle with the organization. The reason I didn’t reach out to a lawyer initially, was because I thought it would mean an immediate end to any hope of a positive relationship with the company. Steve was able to address my concerns, and in the end I was able to continue to work for them."  -KS

FOLLOW US
Facebook Twitter Linkedin RSS Feed JD Supra