Suit Targets Discrimination in
U.S. Business Transaction
Mr. Hubert Heller, a member of the Church of Scientology, named Ursula Caberta of Hamburgs interior department in both her professional and private capacity and seeks $75,000 in damages.
The legal action arises out of Cabertas creation and advocacy of so-called sect filters, mandatory declarations which screen individuals from employment or contractual relations solely on the basis of their religion. These filters have been condemned as human rights violations by the U.S. State Department and are the reason why in April, the U.S. Trade Representative placed Germany on their list of countries engaged in discriminatory trade practices. (See Democracy in the Balance).
Mr. Heller is a sales representative for the American computer company RTI, which has clients in 58 countries. According to the lawsuit, he was presented with Cabertas sect filter when engaged in negotiations with the German company POS Partner Gmbh, which was interested in purchasing RTIs software products. Mr. Heller refused to sign it, and POS Partner withdrew its offer of purchase from RTI as a result.
The suit alleges that requiring Mr. Heller to sign the filter, upon threat of economic sanctions, violates his rights under the U.S. Constitution. In addition to damages, it seeks a permanent injunction against Caberta from distributing sect filters in the United States.
Florida businessman filed suit in July 2000 against a Hamburg, Germany official for interference with prospective economic advantage resulting from religious discrimination.