ANDERSON — A local businesswoman is under fire for alleged religious discrimination and unlawful retaliation, wrongful discharge, and breach of contract in her dealings with two former employees.
Those allegations are the basis of a lawsuit filed against Judy Nagengast last week in the Darke County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas Civil Division by Paul and Chelsea Wysong, of Palestine, Ohio.
Nagengast is the president and chief executive officer of Anderson-based Continental Design Co. Inc., which operates several business divisions including staffing, quality control, and specialty LED lighting.
Wysong joined the company working as a quality control manager in July 2016, according to the legal compaint; his wife, Chelsea, began working for the company in October 2014. Both were fired Dec. 29.
Wysong earned $80,000 per year, plus certain bonuses and commission on sales.
According to the complaint, “he was required by Ms. Nagengast to participate in Scientology religious practices, such as audits, made to partake in Scientology training, was given numerous pieces of Scientology literature and instructed to attend Scientology courses at locations in California, Indiana and Florida.”
The Wysongs, who identified themselves as Christians, said in the complaint, “Ms. Nagengast’s conduct in imposing her religion of Scientology on Mr. Wysong was unwelcome and created a hostile work environment for Mr. Wysong.”
Scientology was conceived by author L. Ron Hubbard in the early 1950s. In 1954, the first Church of Scientology opened in Los Angeles.
Scientology teaches that the spirit of human beings is far more important than environment or gene. The church’s fundamental beliefs are that: “Man is an immortal spiritual being. His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime. And his capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized,” according to the church’s website.
In addition, Scientologists believe that man is basically good, “and that his spiritual salvation depends upon himself, his fellows, and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe.”
Now recognized as a legitimate religion in the United States, the church as a controversial history. It is considered a cult by some people, and a commercial enterprise by other critics.
In an interview last week, Nagengast, an adherent of Scientology, categorically denied ever forcing her religious beliefs on Wysong or his wife.
“Everything in this lawsuit is totally false,” Nagengast said, characterizing Wysong as both a disgruntled employee who “did a lousy job.”
“I don’t care about what anybody’s religion is,” she said.
Wysong is seeking unpaid commissions and bonuses, and the recovery of lost wages; compensatory and punitive damages, and the payment of reasonable attorney fees.
Nagengast, meanwhile, said she is planning to file a countersuit against Wysong.
Like Stu Hirsch on Facebook and follow him @stuhirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.