The United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a discrimination lawsuit on June 11 against United Health Programs of America and its parent company Cost Containment Group for allegedly forcing employees to practice Onionhead religion at the workplace. Onionhead requires adherents to join prayer circles, thank god for their jobs and greet each other with “I love you.”
According to EEOC, the company based in Long Island requires its employees to practice Onionhead because the religion helps harness happiness. The lawsuit stated staffers were expected to wear Onionhead buttons to work, maintain dim lighting in the office, read spiritual texts and burn candles. It is alleged that those who refused to adhere by the religious practices of the organization were either disciplined or terminated.
The new-age religion Onionhead was founded in 2007 by a relative of the owner of the company. The Harnessing Happiness Foundation that funds all religious activities related to Onionhead, describes the faith as a belief system that was created two decades ago by a mother and daughter to guide people to more harmonious and successful lives.
“While religious or spiritual practices may indeed provide comfort and community to many people, it is critical to be aware that federal law prohibits employers from coercing employees to take part in them,” said Sunu Chandy, senior trial attorney for the EEOC.
Three former employees filed the complaint against United Health Programs of America. Elizabeth Ontaneda, Faith Pabon and Francine Pennisi were first demoted and then fired for refusing to attend religious meetings with Denali Jordan.
Jordan was in charge of enforcing Onionhead in the workplace and attributed the women’s resistance to the religion to demonic intervention. EEOC has asked a judge to order for these practices to be stopped at the workplace and requested the employees receive back pay and other forms of compensation. Naturally, both United Health Programs of America and Jordan have denied all allegations.
Photo Credit: LoveOnionhead