LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Catholic woman fired from her job at a bottled water company led by a Nevada lawmaker has filed a federal lawsuit against the business, alleging she was pressured to watch videos on Scientology and was denied pay raises because of her religious beliefs.
Grecia Echevarria-Hernandez filed a discrimination lawsuit April 26 against Las Vegas-based AffinityLifestyles.com, also known as Real Alkalized Water. Republican Assemblyman Brent Jones is president of the company. His son, Blain Jones, is executive vice president of the company and also is running for a state Nevada Assembly seat.
"I have not seen the legal documents at this time, so I cannot comment on the alleged claims," Jones said in a statement Tuesday.
The plaintiff said she was hired in March 2015 as a "brand ambassador" for Real Water, which markets water infused with electrons that "can help your body to restore balance, and reach your full potential!" according to the company website.
On her first day, Echevarria-Hernandez said she was forced to watch several videos with religious undertones, including "The Secret" and others based on Scientology.
Her supervisor later told her that she could get a 25-cent raise if she participated in self-betterment courses, and the plaintiff said she tried to sit through one of the classes. But it also had to do with Scientology and made her feel uncomfortable, so she left early.
The plaintiff let her supervisor know she didn't want to participate because she held different religious beliefs — she was baptized Catholic and attends a Christian church. As a result, she was not eligible for raises, according to the lawsuit.
"Plaintiff felt alienated by all of the other employees because they all held the same religious beliefs, and clearly did not approve of her choice to not participate," the complaint said.
Echevarria-Hernandez said that she wasn't previously written up for poor performance, but her supervisor wrote three reports on Oct. 8, 2015, alleging she wasn't fulfilling her job duties. Another person fired her the next day.
"The termination was not based on deficient job performance as defendant claims," the lawsuit says. "In reality, defendant sought a reason to terminate an employee with differing religious views."
Echevarria-Hernandez alleges her treatment constituted discrimination, retaliation and an unlawful employment practice under the federal Civil Rights Act, and also violated Nevada law. She's seeking compensation for past and future lost income and benefits, unspecified damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages.
No court date has been set.
Brent Jones was elected in 2014 and is known for stances against taxes, Common Core education standards and the state health insurance exchange. He's being heavily targeted this year by both Democrats and more moderate Republicans after recruiting a slate of anti-tax candidates to run against incumbent Republicans who supported Gov. Brian Sandoval's $1.4 billion tax package.
Jones has spoken publicly about his belief in Scientology, a religion developed in the 1950s by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.