Controversial development training cited in religious discrimination lawsuits

Friday, May 23, 2008

A controversial development training course called “Landmark Forum” is cited in religious discrimination lawsuits in United States federal courts in New York and Washington, D.C. The seminars are run by a San Francisco, California-based for-profit training company called Landmark Education. The company evolved from Erhard Seminars Training “est”, and has faced criticism regarding its techniques and its use of unpaid labor. The sperm bank and surrogacy company Los Angeles-based Growing Generations is named as a defendant in the New York lawsuit, and the Democratic political action committee Twenty-First Century Democrats is a defendant in the Washington, D.C. case.

In separate lawsuits filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York, and in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C., former employees are suing their employers for monetary damages and claiming religious discrimination after their employers allegedly mandated that they attend courses at Landmark Education.

In the US$3 million federal lawsuit filed in New York, Scott Glasgow is suing his former employer Growing Generations and its CEO Stuart Miller. Growing Generations maintains sperm banks and also arranges surrogacy for gay couples who wish to have children. The company has offices in New York and Los Angeles, and has done business with celebrities including actor B. D. Wong of Law & Order: SVU.

Glasgow was marketing director of Growing Generations, and claims he was fired in June 2007 after refusing to continue attending Landmark Education seminars. Glasgow is also suing for sexual harassment, and claims Miller came on to him in September 2006. He made approximately $100,000 per year as the company’s marketing director, and was the company’s only employee based out of New York City. The company’s main offices are in Los Angeles.

I want them to stop imposing Landmark on the employees, and I want an apology.

“I was shocked when I was fired. It took me months to right myself. I want them to stop imposing Landmark on the employees, and I want an apology,” said Glasgow in a statement in The Village Voice. Brent Pelton, one of Glasgow’s attorneys, stated that: “The Landmark philosophy is deeply ingrained in the culture of the company”. Glasgow said that the Landmark Education training courses were “opposite” to his Christian beliefs. According to Glasgow he was questioned by Miller in May 2007 after he walked out of a Landmark Education course, and was fired shortly thereafter. “We stand by the allegations contained in the complaint and we look forward to proving them at trial,” said Pelton in a statement to ABC News.

Ian Wallace, an attorney who represents Growing Generations, claimed that Glasgow wasn’t fired but walked away from his position. “Growing Generations and Mr. Miller are very confident that these claims will be dismissed ultimately, and there’s no factual basis for them whatsoever,” said Wallace in a statement to The Village Voice. Lawyers representing Growing Generations and Stuart Miller declined comment to The New York Post, and did not immediately return a message from ABC News.

In Glasgow’s complaint, entered into federal court record on April 18, he asserts that Landmark Education constitutes a “religion”, and “perceived their philosophy as a form of religion that contradicted his own personal beliefs”. He states that when he was promoted to Director of Marketing, he asked Miller if he could stop attending the Landmark sessions but was told that they were mandatory for all of the company’s executives and that Landmark is “very much the language of the company.” Glasgow said his performance at the company was assessed based on how he was “touching, moving and inspiring” others, a phrase from the Landmark philosophy, as opposed to his business accomplishments at the company. The complaint claims that the actions of Miller and Growing Generations violated Federal, New York State and New York City civil rights laws.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. deals with a separate plaintiff and company, but the plaintiff in the suit also claims that religious discrimination took place for allegedly being mandated to attend Landmark Education courses. Kenneth Goldman is suing the United States Democratic political action committee Twenty-First Century Democrats (also 21st Century Democrats) and its former executive director Kelly Young. Goldman was formerly the communications director of 21st Century Democrats.

According to Goldman’s complaint, three employees of 21st Century Democrats were fired after refusing to attend the Landmark Forum course. The complaint asserts that Landmark Education has “religious characteristics and theological implications” which influenced the mission of 21st Century Democrats and the way the organization conducted business. Goldman’s complaint states that in addition to himself, a training director and field director were also fired after they made it clear they would not attend the Landmark Forum.

Goldman says executive director Young infused Landmark Education jargon terms into staff meetings such as “create possibilities”, “create a new context”, and “enroll in possibilities”. He also claims that Young “urged” staff members to participate in Landmark Education events outside of the workplace, drove employees to and from Landmark functions, and used funds from 21st Century Democrats to pay for employees to attend those functions. Goldman’s complaint asserts that he was discriminated against in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.

While we are not a party to this lawsuit and have no firsthand knowledge of it, we can only assume that we are being used as a legal and political football to further the plaintiff”s own financial interests.

In a statement in The Washington Times, the executive director of 21st Century Democrats, Mark Lotwis, called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said: “we’re going to defend our organization’s integrity”. Landmark Education spokeswoman Deborah Beroset said that the Landmark Forum “is in no way religious in nature and any claim to the contrary is simply absurd,” and stated: “While we are not a party to this lawsuit and have no firsthand knowledge of it, we can only assume that we are being used as a legal and political football to further the plaintiff”s own financial interests.”

The New York lawsuit was filed April 14, and is still in early filing stages. A conference with the federal court judge in the case has been scheduled for June 17. The Washington, D.C. suit began in November 2007, and entered mediation this past March. As of April 15 the parties in the case were due back to court on July 11 to update the court on the mediation process.

Landmark Education is descended from Erhard Seminars Training, also called “est”, which was founded by Werner Erhard. est began in 1971, and Erhard’s company Werner Erhard and Associates repackaged the course as “The Forum” in 1985. Associates of Erhard bought the license to his “technology” and incorporated Landmark Education in California in 1991.

This is not the first time employees have sued claiming mandatory attendance at “Forum” workshops violated their civil rights. In a lawsuit filed in December 1988 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, eight employees of DeKalb Farmers Market in Decatur, Georgia sued their employer claiming their religious freedom and civil rights were violated when they were allegedly coerced into attending “Forum” training sessions. “Many of these training programs, particularly at large corporations, claim to be purely psychological, aimed at improving productivity and morale and loyalty. But in fact they are religious,” said University of Denver religious studies professor Carl Raschke in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

The DeKalb Farmers Market employees were represented by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union. Consulting Technologies Inc., an affiliate of Transformational Technologies Inc., was named as a party in the lawsuit. Transformational Technologies was founded by Werner Erhard, and was not named as a party in the suit. The “Forum” course that the employees claimed they were mandated to attend was developed by Werner Erhard and Associates. Employees said that they were fired or pressured to quit after they objected to the Forum courses.

The workers claimed that the Forum course contradicted with their religious beliefs. The plaintiffs in the suit included adherents of varying religious backgrounds, including Christianity and Hinduism. “The sessions put people into a hibernating state. They ask for total loyalty. It’s like brainwashing,” said Dong Shik Kim, one of the plaintiffs in the case. The plaintiffs said they lost their jobs after objecting to a “new age quasi-religious cult” which they said was developed by Werner Erhard.

The DeKalb Farmers Market denied the allegations, and an attorney for the company Edward D. Buckley III told The Wall Street Journal that employees were encouraged, not coerced, to attend the training sessions. According to The Wall Street Journal, The Forum said it would not sanction workers being coerced to attend its training sessions.

The parties in the DeKalb Farmers Market religious discrimination case came to a settlement in May 1989, and the case was dismissed with prejudice in June. The terms of the out-of-court settlement were not made public, but the employees’ attorney Amy Totenberg told The Wall Street Journal that the case “has made employers come to grips with the legitimate boundaries of employee training”.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must “reasonably accommodate” their employees’ religious beliefs unless this creates “undue hardship”. In September 1988, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a policy-guidance notice which stated that New Age courses should be handled under Title VII of the Act. According to the Commission, employers must provide “reasonable accommodation” if an employee challenges a training course, unless this causes “undue hardship” for the company.

In October 2006, Landmark Education took legal action against Google, YouTube, the Internet Archive and a website owner in Queensland, Australia in attempts to remove criticism of its products from the Internet. The company sought a subpoena under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an attempt to discover the identity of an anonymous critic who uploaded a 2004 French documentary of the Landmark Forum to the Internet. “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus) was produced by Pièces à Conviction, a French investigative journalism news program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation represented the anonymous critic and the Internet Archive, and Landmark withdrew its subpoena in November 2006 in exchange for a promise from the anonymous critic not to repost the video.

Landmark Education itself has come under scrutiny for its controversial labor practices. The company has been investigated by the United States Department of Labor in separate investigations originating out of California, Colorado, and Texas. Investigations focused on the heavy reliance of unpaid labor in the company’s workforce, which Landmark Education calls “assistants” and deems volunteers.

An investigation by the U.S. Dept. Labor based out of Colorado found that activities performed by Landmark Education’s “assistants” include: “office, clerical, telephone solicitation and enrollment, as well as greeting customers, setting up chairs, handling microphones during the seminars and making coffee. Additionally, a number of volunteers actually teach the courses and provide testimonials during and after the courses.” The Colorado investigation’s 1996 report found that “No records are kept of any hours worked by any employees.” According to a 1998 article in Metro Silicon Valley: “In the end the Department of Labor dropped the issue, leaving Landmark trumpeting about its volunteers’ choice in the matter.” Metro Silicon Valley reported that Landmark Education at the time employed 451 paid staff, and also utilized the services of 7,500 volunteers.

After an investigation into Landmark Education’s labor practices by the U.S. Dept. Labor’s offices out of California, the company was deemed to have overtime violations. According to the Department of Labor’s 2004 report on the investigation, back wages of $187,569.01 were found due to 45 employees. An investigation by the U.S. Dept. Labor in Texas which concluded in 2005 stated: “Minimum wage violation found. Volunteers (Assistants) are not paid any wages for hours worked while performing the major duties of the firm. The assistants set up rooms, call registrants, collect fees, keep stats of classroom data/participants, file, they also are answering phones, training and leading seminars.”

The Texas investigation also discovered an overtime violation. Landmark Education agreed to pay back wages for the overtime violation, but did not comply with the overtime violation found by the U.S. Dept. Labor for the “assistants”. Landmark Education denied that the “assistants” are employees, though the Department of Labor report concluded: “Interviews reveal that the employees are taking payments, registering clients, billing, training, recruiting, setting up locations, cleaning, and other duties that would have to be performed by staff if the assistants did not perform them.”

According to the 2004 investigative report by Pièces à Conviction in the “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” program, Landmark Education was investigated by the French government in 1995. In the “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” program volunteers were filmed through a hidden camera and shown performing duties for Landmark Education in France including manning phones, recruitment and financial work for the company, and one volunteer was shown cleaning a toilet.

Le Nouvel Observateur reported that after “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” aired in France, labor inspectors investigated Landmark Education’s use of unpaid volunteers. According to Le Nouvel Observateur, one month after the labor investigation took place the French branch of the company had disbanded. A former “Introduction Leader” to the Landmark Forum, Lars Bergwik, has recently posted a series of videos to YouTube critical of the company and its practices. Bergwik appeared on a 2004 investigative journalism program on Sweden’s Channel 4, Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts). According to Bergwik, after the Kalla Fakta program on Landmark Education aired, “Landmark left Sweden”.

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St Louis Mortgage: Loan Modification Not Nearly As Lucrative As A Foreclosure

By Floyd J. Tapia

Millions of dollars have been enjoyed by numerous companies for simply approving home sales for less than the owed balance. This is also known as a type of short sale.

The United States Treasury department has been paying $1500 for each loan file that is modified. These companies also handle the collection of mortgage payments and requests for assistance.

These companies or servicers can also get $1,000 for each loan modification completion under the government’s modification program and additional stipends over a period of three years if borrowers stay current on their new mortgage payments.

But the problem has become that there will not be enough time nor man power to save the millions of homes where loan payments are in arrears more than 90 days nor do St Louis finance professionals feel there are enough incentives to accomplish this task.

The payouts provided by the Obama administration’s bailout programs don’t come close to what servicers will earn by choosing to foreclose instead.

In fact, “the incentives being offered by the government are small compared to the counter-incentive of foreclosure” so says chief economist Diane Swonk from Mesirow Financial.

Many feel that since the lending industry has its own set of incentives, you can’t tell people to do something that’s not in their best financial interest, especially in an market that is still struggling.

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Now it seems, according to Swonk, that free enterprise even in a downturn economy such as ours can rightfully advocate greed over doing what is morally right and in the best interest of the St Louis mortgage owner.

And yes, this has become a double-edged sword so to say. The second quarter of 2009 showed that modified homeowners has missed at least one loan payment as reported by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision.

The statistics go on to show that a total of twenty-four percent of St Louis home loans modified in that same period were 90 days or more overdue.

Some now say that loan modifications do not work while others insist that we need more time to see how this plan unfolds before throwing in the proverbial towel.

Marie McDonnell, owner of Truth in Lending Auditing & Recovery Services in Orleans, Massachusetts suggests that these servicers are not really losing money when a re-default occurs.

If the homeowner fails to meet the terms of their new loan modification and the property isn’t approved for a short sale under the HAFA program, then servicers can proceed with a foreclosure and recoup all their money when the property is sold.

And since there is more money to be made with a foreclosed property, the majority of servicers will go the as many say the immoral route and not help save the homeowner’s property.

Once a loan is 90 days or more overdue, servicers can charge processing and foreclosure fees along with markups for attorneys, appraisers and other associated services.

Keep in mind this does not include any and all monthly late fees that can run as high as 5 percent of the mortgage payment.

Let’s talk about numbers for a moment. A $195,000 home going into foreclosure could bring approximately $11,000 in income for these servicers.

Rumors have it that on the average, servicers can easily make 10 times the amount more than any of the government stipends being offered by simply foreclosing on the house.

The sad thing is mortgage investors will take a loss from a foreclosure or a short sale, but not the servicers. As mentioned earlier, they get paid regardless because they are first in line to be paid from the proceeds of the home sale.

This unfortunate situation was only made worse when politicians rejected new legislation designed to allow bankruptcy judges to reduce mortgage balances and interest rates to help such homeowners.

The provisions know as the ‘cram-down’ law would have allowed judicial modified loans which in essence would have given better terms to the consumer to make it easier to continue with their mortgage payment.

This new legislation would have prevented servicers from using greed and financial gain in deciding who gets a loan modification and who goes into foreclosure. One has to stop and think was there any real hope for stopping this mortgage crisis in the first place.

About the Author: When a consumer wants to know more about a St Louis mortgage home loan, they visit Floyd J. Tapia’s site at for a business or commercial refinancing loan. And to choose the best St Louis refinancing loan, you can also give Floyd a call at 314-334-0210 or 877-334-0210.


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Collision of Challenger-60 and Boeing-757 prevented in Moscow sky

Sunday, June 17, 2007

On June 13 air traffic controllers in Moscow prevented what ultimately became a near-miss from becoming a serious midair collision. The incident occurred when a Bombardier Challenger 60 business jet violated controllers’ instructions and flew into the path of a Boeing 757.

According to an official release, the Challenger had been instructed several times to ascend to no higher than 1,800 metres. However, the light jet proceeded to a height of 2,070 metres without authorisation, taking it into the path of a 757 which was approaching nearby Vnukovo International Airport.

The two aircraft came close enough that the Traffic Collision Avoidance System on board the Boeing was activated and provided an audible alert to the crew. Meanwhile, air traffic control noticed the emergency and guided the two planes away from each other.

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U.S. drones reported in Iranian airspace

Monday, February 14, 2005

Three U.S.-government sources have reported the existence of U.S. military drone flights made over Iran, carrying surveillance equipment and particle filters capable of detecting nuclear materials. Confusingly, U.S.-military sources denied the overflights.

Iranian military personnel said they were aware of them, and sightings had prompted a number of UFO reports in the area of Iranian nuclear installations. They viewed them as provocative and probably designed to trick the Iranians into turning on their radar so that the US could determine potential targets.

Because Iran does not have political ties with the US, it has formally issued its objections to the flights through Swiss diplomats.


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Dental Imaging Equipment Global Market Trends, Size And Analysis 2016 2020

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Senator Ted Stevens loses re-election bid in Alaska ballot

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alaskan U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who turned 85 yesterday, narrowly lost his re-election bid to Mark Begich, the Democratic Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska.

Meanwhile, as Alaska’s counting of the November 4 election is almost complete, Democratic challenger for the US House of Representatives, Ethan Berkowitz, conceded to incumbent Don Young, the Republican Party nominee.

With this result, the Democrats are two seats away (assuming that independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman continue to caucus with them) from a filibuster-proof supermajority in the United States Senate, with two races (Minnesota and Georgia) as yet uncalled. That would allow the Democrats to invoke cloture, limiting filibusters to a further 30 hours, an ability last attained in the 95th Congress of 1977-79.

Stevens is entitled to request a recount at his campaign’s expense, and has not yet made a statement. After the completion of counting yesterday, Begich had defeated Stevens by 3,724 votes, a margin of over one percent. 2,500 special absentee and postal ballots remain to be counted on November 25.

Begich released a statement on his win saying, “I am humbled and honored to serve Alaska in the United States Senate. It’s been an incredible journey getting to this point, and I appreciate the support and commitment of the thousands of Alaskans who have brought us to this day.”

Young won his race by 16,280 votes, a margin of five percent.

Stevens recently became a convicted felon on seven counts for lying on Senate disclosure forms about accepting $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from VECO, an oil services company. He has asked President George W. Bush not to grant him a presidential pardon.

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Canadian neighbourhood protected from bully for three years

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ralph Scala was sentenced Saturday for 49 counts of mischief, criminal harassment, and uttering threats during seven years of neighbourhood bullying in Toronto, Ontario.

Scala, aged 36, slashed tires, smashed windows, and intimidated and insulted his neighbours.

“I had to go and calm her down when she found her property littered with dog refuse, dead squirrels, cats, mice and even a skunk deliberately left behind to frighten her,” said Maria Bolotta, daughter of Carmela Canino, an 87 year old widow. Canino shared a semi-detached house with Scala.

“It became impossible for me to spend quality time with her or to enjoy her property with her because of the horrible skeletons, fake camera, pitchforks, and tombs bearing her name that we had to face when we went outside.” continued Bolotta.

Bolotta recounted finding 22 sharpened bicycle spokes jabbed into the lawn while she was out with the lawn mower.

Justice Kathleen Caldwell’s sentencing of Scala was followed by a three year probation, counseling, and 200 hours of community service. Additionally he must pay the neighbourhood victims restitution and stay away from the neighbourhood and its residents.

His father, Felice Scala aged 62, faces four charges related to his son’s crimes and will appear in court in June.

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You Should Try These Great Second Date Ideas!

You Should Try These Great Second Date Ideas!


Patrick Sherman

Second dates can troublesome to plan, so this record of some of the finest second date ideas should really are available handy. Since you\’ve already gotten to know your date on the first date, some of the strain is off, and also you want to make the second date a bit extra fun! Planning a date that you would be able to interact is important!

Second dates can tough to plan, so this checklist of a number of the best second date ideas ought to actually come in handy. Since you have already gotten to know your date on the primary date, some of the stress is off, and you need to make the second date a bit more fun! Planning a date you can work together is vital!

Play Some Billiards

Second dates are all about creating a connection, so shooting pool could be a enjoyable activity. You\’ll be close in proximity so you\’ll be able to discuss as you shoot. Give your date a challenge by competing towards every other.

Hit Your Native Lanes

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Hit up your local lanes to have an upbeat date the place you may interact with each other. The bowling alley is a great place for a second date because it\’s a laidback atmosphere. It\’s one other nice exercise which you can make right into a friendly challenge.

Movie Evening In

Swing by your native film rental retailer and pick up a good flick to have a movie night in. Having a movie night in together with your date will can help you talk and get to know each other better. It doesn\’t should be boring, grab some popcorn and all your favourite movie treats. You can even seize some adult drinks to loosen up with your date.

Grab A Cup Of Joe

Why not grab a cup of Joe on your second date, it supplies a quiet ambiance to calm down and revel in speaking together with your date. It\’s calm and easy-going.

Go To A Wildlife Park

Going to a wildlife park is an efficient second date idea as a result of it\’s completely different from the usual. Come on, everyone likes animals! You\’ll have loads to talk about along with your date!

Go Mini-golfing

Playing a spherical of miniature golf could be a great second date idea. You might be in close proximity along with your date, particularly if one in all you does not know methods to play.

Have A Cook dinner Out

Everyone loves to grill, right? Having a BBQ is a great second date idea as a result of you\’ll be able to have quite a lot of enjoyable grilling together and getting ready enjoyable foods!

Go Snowboarding

Obviously, this one is climate permitting! The rush you get from snowboarding or snowboarding is inexplicable. Whether, you are skilled or new to it, it will likely be an incredible time learning together!

Head To Your Native Lounge

What better technique to chill and loosen up together with your date, than to have just a few cocktails at your local lounge. This does not imply to get intoxicated, simply enough to loosen up!

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Florida man charged with stealing Wi-Fi

Update since publication

This article mentions that Wi-Fi stands for “Wireless Fidelity”, although this is disputed.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

A Florida man is being charged with 3rd degree felony for logging into a private Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) Internet access point without permission. Benjamin Smith III, 41, is set for a pre-trial hearing this month in the first case of its kind in the United States.

This kind of activity occurs frequently, but often goes undetected by the owners of these wireless access points (WAPs). Unauthorized users range from casual Web browsers, to users sending e-mails, to users involved in pornography or even illegal endeavours.

According to Richard Dinon, owner of the WAP Smith allegedly broke into, Smith was using a laptop in an automobile while parked outside Dinon’s residence.

There are many steps an owner of one of these access points can take to secure them from outside users. Dinon reportedly knew how to take these steps, but had not bothered because his “neighbors are older.”

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