US Labor Laws

asagai

Patron Meritorious
Here's some info/opinion posted on OCMB from "Don carlo"
http://ocmb.xenu.net/ocmb/viewtopic.php?p=327244#327244

ARE YOU IN CHARGE OF PAYING CoS WORKERS? TO AVOID CRIMINAL CHARGES, READ THIS:

1. ARE COS WORKERS VOLUNTEERS? NO.

The CoS Staff contract says:
QUOTE #1:
I FUTHER UNDERSTAND THAT ALL CHURCH MEMBERS INCLUDING MYSELF, ARE MEMBERS OF A RELIGIOUS ORDER; THAT THEY SERVE PURSUANT TO THEIR RELIGIOUS OBLIGATIONS AND NOT IN CONTEMPLATION OF RECEIVING ANY COMPENSATION WHATSOEVER, AND IN DOING SO THAT THEY ARE FORSAKING ALL COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL MOTIVATION. PLEASE INITIAL____

EACH CONSIDERS HIMSELF/HERSELF A VOLUNTEER TO CREATE A BETTER WORLD, AND UNDERSTANDS THAT HE/SHE IS NOT AN EMPLOYEE, I.E. IS NOT ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SECULAR BENEFITS SUCH AS A MINIMUM WAGE OR OVERTIME COMPENSATION. PLEASE INITIAL______

END QUOTE # 1 Staff Contract from http://www.researchthetruth.com/cosdocs-staff.pdf .

Nonetheless by accepting more than about $200 a year, and accepting supervision and letting CoS set your hours, you are inescapably an EMPLOYEE. There are only three categories that all workers fall into:

a. Volunteers must receive only tiny amounts, under $200 a year. A volunteer has the right to come and go, choose his own hours and own favorite work, and of course retain all civil rights. A public member of CoS with an outside job, who dabbles in Volunteer Ministry and gets zero pay, really IS a volunteer. But those taking over $200 a year are employees.

b. Contractors, like plumbers, come and go as they wish, aren't directly supervised, and set their own hours. Staff and Sea Org obviously aren't contractors.

c. Employees are everybody else, making over $200 a year and being bossed around. CoS workers are EMPLOYEES. There is no escaping this. Calling yourself a volunteer, or a minister, and signing this clause does NOTHING. You cannot volunteer to be underpaid, according to federal law. Being religious or having the IRS secret agreement doesn't change this.

QUOTE # 2:
An individual's motivation, such as whether he or she expects compensation for his or her labor, factors greatly in the determination of whether he or she qualifies as a volunteer. Nonetheless, a worker may not simply waive his or her right to FLSA coverage in order to enable his or her employer to escape the wage, hour and child labor provisions. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, FLSA protection may not be waived since:

SUPREME COURT QUOTE:
If an exception to the Act were carved out for employees willing to testify that they performed work "voluntarily," employers might be able to use superior bargaining power to coerce employees to make such assertions, or to waive their protections under the Act. END SUPREME COURT QUOTE

Competition is yet another factor that influences the Department of Labor's evaluation. A volunteer should never displace or replace a member of the workforce. If his or her service jeopardizes the employment of another individual, the Department of Labor is unlikely to grant volunteer status.
END QUOTE #2 from
http://www.ed.gov/americareads/resourcekit/Negotiating/wagehours.html

The Supreme Court says you're a REAL volunteer and exempt from minimum wage "in almost every circumstance" if you volunteer to "minister to the comfort of the sick, elderly, indigent, infirm, or handicapped, and those who work with retarded or disadvantaged youth"

My comment: Scientology demands that workers minister to the "able," and giving away services is "out-exchange." They have publicly stated that people have to be healthy and not on welfare to get audited. Scientology workers don't act like charity-giving volunteers. Even if they say "auditing can help disadvantaged youths," the term "minister to the comfort" does not include extracting money for auditing, or only giving the youth auditing if he works for COS. The minister would have to spend his time auditing outside disadvantaged youth WITHOUT CHARGING THEM. So the ACTIONS of the staff are not the actions of a volunteer.

2. ARE THEY COVERED UNDER FEDERAL LABOR LAWS? YES.
Do CoS workers make interstate phone calls and interstate money transactions? Yes, so they are engaged in interstate commerce and thus subject to federal minimum wage laws.

3. IS THERE A VALID CoS VOW OF POVERTY? NO. The Billion-Year Contract has nothing about volunteering and low pay, and the Staff Contract does not meet the requirements for a Vow of Poverty.
See entire Sea Org contract at www.antisectes.net/honte/sea-org-contracts.pdf . The entire Staff Contract, again, is at http://www.researchthetruth.com/cosdocs-staff.pdf .

Sea Org and non-Sea Org workers start by signing the same Staff Contract. But their real work lives are quite different. Regular (non-Sea Org) staff can have other jobs, live where they like, marry, and have children (if they can afford it). They do not have to join Sea Org. Regular staff sign up for 2 and a half or 5 years. They are pressured to work long hours but can argue and refuse, since there is no punishment besides firing and possible disconnection from family. They can't be sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF). Staff pay is based on statistics (stats) from that week's sales, but only after CoS headquarters and pressing bills are paid. (Note that the "rule" that they can't quit until they find a replacement is NOT in this contract. It would be invalid anyway, since it is slavery if you can't quit an illegally low-paying job.)

Sea Org staff are quite different, since they additionally sign the Billion Year contract to join this "fraternal organization." They cannot work at any job outside Sea Org. They usually live in Sea Org housing. In the past, they could only marry Sea Org staff. For about two decades, they have not been allowed to get pregnant or adopt children, although some parents with children can still join Sea Org. Sea Org workers are supposedly "drug-free," and work long hours, and it is very difficult for them to refuse, since the penalty for disobedience is the RPF. Like regular staff, their pay is based on stats. They can also be sent to the RPF for poor performance, embarrassing CoS, lurking on the Internet, or offending a powerful executive.

A regular staff member easily signs the Staff Contract, thinking many paragraphs won't apply to him, since he is told some paragraphs are only for Sea Org, and the contract is for only a few years. They often have another job so the money isn't so desperately needed. They aren't given a copy of the contract, and they forget about the contract details. Later, they join Sea Org and sign the Billion Year contract. But now, they THINK they are bound by all the legalese of the Staff contract, plus the authoritarian absolutism of the Billion-Year contract. If they were offered a comprehensive Sea Org contract, that forbids them to work elsewhere and pays them starvation wages, they might not sign both the legal and the absolutist clauses at once, because it's scary to sign away most of your civil rights forever, with the RPF punishment looming over you if you falter or disobey.

CoS is trying to have it both ways with the regular staff. It says in the contract that all Scientology workers are members of a "Scientology Religious Order," so CoS wants them to think they are religious workers taking a vow of poverty. However, regular staff are given freedom to work at another job. That's inconsistent. Monks taking a vow of poverty don't also get a paycheck from Olive Garden.

Regular staff is also considered lower, in power and spiritual level, than Sea Org. This contradicts the notion of fellowship.

A vow of poverty means that you accept being completely impoverished; you gave away your worldly goods, and live an extremely simple and austere life. Benedictine monks aren't allowed to own anything, not even their own clothes. It's a different concept than being underpaid. There's nothing in the above "below-minimum-wage" paragraphs about the moral benefits of austerity. Regular CoS workers can still get $$$ from your second Olive Garden job, own a car and a house - THIS IS NOT POVERTY AS A GOAL. Even though CoS may pressure you to sell or mortgage your condo, and spend the money on courses, that's not in writing. A vow of poverty usually means a covenant relationship, where the monk is taken care of in his sickness and old age, since of course he has nothing. CoS uses the term covenant in the contract, but only to

(a) avoid responsibility for any verbal promises
(b) not promise any training, and
(c) illegally collect the freeloader debt if the person quits or is fired

QUOTE #4 from Staff Contract:
BREACH OF COVENANT. If a staff member, who receives services from no cost up to and including 50% of cost (cost to the public), breaks his agreement either by leading staff before completing his commitment or by violating his good standing as a Scientology staff member so that he is dismissed in accordance with policy, he or she shall remit forthwith to the Church a penance for violation of this covenant in accordance with the ecclesiastical policy of the Church if such person is declared a “freeloader." This provision is not intended to reflect traditional commercial bargains or concerns, but rather is intended as a manifestation of applicable ecclesiastical ethics.
END QUOTE # 4
FROM http://www.researchthetruth.com/cosdocs-staff.pdf

Notice the last sentence - CoS is only collecting the freeloader debt for "ethical" reasons, to prevent "out-exchange" rather than because CoS WANTS the money. But in "Furnishing of Necessaries," CoS crudely CREATED the freeloader debt as a false bogeyman by not considering room, board and courses as "earned."

Regular and Sea Org workers are compelled to achieve their weekly stats to get paid, which causes a unseemly and unspiritual obsession with money, and can lead to false promises to the public. Furthermore, successful hard-sellers get lucrative commissions:

QUOTE # 5: Commanding Officer of the Flag Service Organization, Debbie Cook, bought a new $40,000 car with the commission she made from Maria's coerced donation END QUOTE # 5 from http://www.holysmoke.org/cos/maria0.htm

It is hard to see how Debbie Cook is fulfilling any vow of poverty here.

4. DO ROOM, BOARD & CLASSES COUNT? NOT ACCORDING TO COS.

CoS claims its Sea Org workers get room, board, and classes, but not "as compensation."

QUOTE # 6 from Staff Contract:
FURNISHING OF NECESSARIES. Church staff members serve pursuant to their religious commitment and conviction rather than for monetary gain or other traditional commercial or financial motives or incentives. Nevertheless, the Church will, pursuant to this covenant, furnish certain necessaries, including a weekly nominal "pocket money" allowance, and, for certain staff positions, room and board. The furnishing of these necessary items is not intended to be and is not compensation for services performed by the applicant, but rather it provides an opportunity for the Church to establish an appropriate environment within which religious and spiritual awareness may receive the greatest prospect for enhancement and in which such matters constitute the sole reward for services. The amount of weekly allowance may vary depending upon economic conditions generally prevailing within the Church.
END QUOTE # 6
from http://www.researchthetruth.com/cosdocs-staff.pdf

This is a highly revealing paragraph. The reason the room, board, and classes are not considered compensation is that CoS would have to declare them as income, and would have to pay its share of Social Security taxes on these items, which are considered "in-kind" in tax lingo. Furthermore, once these items showed up on the worker's paycheck the worker would have to pay the worker's share of Social Security on the in-kind items. With a pittance for wages, the worker would be even more impoverished by having Social Security taxes deducted on room board, and courses!

Furthermore, if CoS considered the room, board and training as that week's income, that means that the worker EARNED them. Once the worker quit or was fired, there would be NO freeloader debt, since everything was already earned. Presently of course, the freeloader debt is unenforceable and illegal, but the worker doesn't know that. CoS can only scare the worker with freeloader debt threats, as a tool to keep the worker from quitting; it could never enforce the freeloader debt.

5. THE STAFF CONTRACT SAYS YOU CAN'T SUE OR GO TO THE GOV'T. FALSE.
The staff contract has many paragraphs stating that the worker can't sue CoS or CoS workers. This makes people think that they can't ask the US Department of Labor to force CoS to provide back pay for years of service. But contracts are valid only if they are LEGAL. There are several illegal parts of this contract, most specifically the "volunteering" to be paid under minimum wage. This invalidates the entire contract. So if you are an ex-Scientologist worker who left in the last one or two years, you have rights to back wages and back overtime wages. The government will provide the lawyer and the effort, because the Dept. of Labor is set up to help the exploited and unfairly impoverished worker who CAN'T afford their own lawyer. It's their job. What's ironic is that if CoS is charged for the back pay, they can't try to deduct room, board and courses from the back pay, since according to their own contract it's all for "religious and spiritual awareness."

To get back wages, workers have to act within a couple of years of quitting. See
http://www.dol.gov/esa/contacts/whd/america2.htm

So, to the person who signs the checks at this org: You are in a condition of law-breaking, and so is the entire organization. What can you do to protect yourself? Four words: GET YOUR OWN LAWYER
 
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