Ex-Google Contractor Files Fellowship of Friends Sect Lawsuit

A former Google video producer has settled a lawsuit alleging he was fired after complaining that a religious sect had taken root in a business unit of the company.

Kevin Lloyd, 34, said in the lawsuit he was fired after complaining that the Fellowship of Friends, a religious organization based in the Sierra Nevada foothills, a business unit called Google Developer Studios, dominates the videos power that the company’s present technologies.

The lawsuit alleged that the head of the business unit — Peter Lubbers, a longtime member of the Fellowship of Friends — hired many members of the religious group to join the team as contractors, helping some achieve full-time positions and giving many others work in the occupation of corporate conferences and parties.

Google confirmed on Monday that the lawsuit had been settled. It also confirmed that Mr. Lubbers was no longer employed by Google, although it declined to explain his departure. Mr. Lubber was not immediately available for comment.

Mr. Lloyd filed the lawsuit last year against both Google and Advanced Systems Group, or ASG, a staffing company that brought him to Google as a contractor. It accused both companies of violating a California labor law that protects workers from discrimination.

The lawsuit raised questions about Google’s reliance on contract employees, who are now more full-time employees within the company. Most of Mr. Lloyd’s team joined the company through ASG as contractors, including many Fellowship members.

Mr. Lloyd agreed last week to settle the case. Terms of the settlement – that between Mr Lloyd and ASG – were not disclosed.

Founded in 1970 by a former schoolteacher named Robert Earl Burton, the Fellowship of Friends describes itself as “available to anyone interested in pursuing the spiritual work of awakening.” It claims about 1,500 members around the world, including about 500 in and around Oregon House, California, a tiny town about 180 miles north of Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters.

Mr. Burton believed that humans could attain higher consciousness by turning to fine art. He has maintained a flamboyant lifestyle over the decades with the help of his followers, who often donate 10 percent of their monthly income to the organization.

In 1984, a former member filed a lawsuit alleging that young men who had joined the organization “were forcibly and unlawfully sexually seduced by Burton.” In 1996, another former member accused Mr. Burton of sexual misconduct with him when he was a minor. Both lawsuits were settled out of court.

In 2008, Catherine Jones, Mr. Lloyd’s attorney, won a similar lawsuit against staffing firm Kelly Services in his lawsuit against Google and ASG. With the lawsuit, a former Kelly employee claimed the company did not promote her because, unlike many colleagues, she is not a member of the Fellowship. A court awarded $6.5 million in damages.

Before accepting a position at Google and running Google Developer Studios, Mr. Lubbers worked at Kelly Services.

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