Sales is a tough job. Those widgets ain't moving themselves. And everyone knows what happens at the weekly sales meeting: First prize is a Cadillac, second prize is a set of steak knives, and third place is you're fired.
It's no different at Dynamic Medical Services, a Miami chiropractic center where salespeople had strict daily quotas: 12 new appointments for free consultations plus followups to persuade patients to pony up for paid services.
But if federal investigators are to be believed, those sales folks were also forced to spend half of each day toiling over L. Ron Hubbard's books and were coerced into screaming at ashtrays, staring down strangers in malls, and undergoing harsh "cleansing" rituals in a sauna. If they didn't commit themselves to Scientology, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says in a federal complaint, they were fired.
The company says the charges aren't true. "Dynamic Medical Services prides itself on the diversity of its staff and denies that it engaged in any improper or unlawful actions with regards to its employees," according to a statement.
The firm, which has locations in Hialeah and Coral Gables, is owned by Dr. Dennis Nobbe. According to his personal website, Scientology is a major influence in his life. "We apply Scientology principles in our work, our family life, all aspects of our life," he writes of himself and his wife. "I have applied L. Ron Hubbard's business technology to my practice and immediately tripled my income."
But the feds say that application went too far. The EEOC complaint, filed on behalf of four former employees, says Nobbe regularly pressured employees to join his faith.
Norma Rodriguez, for instance, joined the company in 2008. She was ordered to spend every morning in a "course room" Nobbe had built full of Hubbard's writings, and then do sales in the afternoon, the feds say. Her supervisors forced her to do Scientology exercises such as "walk[ing] out to someone in the mall, stop[ping] them, and star[ing] at them without talking to them."
When Rodriguez finally complained, saying she was a Jehovah's Witness and didn't agree with the faith, she was fired, the feds say.
The other employees cited by the EEOC mention similar problems, such as Dynamic's managers telling them when they complained about coursework or Scientology exercises that "you have to because Nobbe requires it."'
Nobbe didn't respond to a message from Riptide, but the statement sent by his firm promises to fight the federal case. "Dynamic Medical Services intends to vigorously defend against these baseless allegations and believes that it will be vindicated."