Suit Against Sperm-Bank Firm Claims Sexual Harassment and Cult-Like Behavior
Stuart Miller runs a profitable company with offices in New York and Los Angeles, and which provides surrogate moms to gay couples and houses sperm and egg banks.
Miller is CEO of Growing Generations, which has been featured in glossy magazines and had two favorable write-ups in The New York Times.
Miller's least favorable write-up is in a lawsuit recently filed in Manhattan federal court. Scott Glasgow, 40, the company's former marketing director, claims he was fired in June 2007 after he refused to attend Landmark "personal-growth" seminars and spurned Miller's amorous advances.
In the suit, Glasgow also claims that Miller required him to share a bed with him on company trips and sent him suggestive e-mails and shirtless pictures of himself in bondage wear, holding a whip. Glasgow is suing under sexual-harassment and religious-discrimination statutes.
"I was shocked when I was fired," says Glasgow, who made about $100,000 as the company's New York–based marketing director. "It took me months to right myself. I want them to stop imposing Landmark on the employees, and I want an apology."
Ian Wallace, a lawyer representing the company, declines to discuss the facts of the case, but he calls Glasgow's claims "baseless." He says Glasgow wasn't fired but just walked away from the job.
"He abandoned his position," Wallace says. "Growing Generations and Mr. Miller are very confident that these claims will be dismissed ultimately, and there's no factual basis for them whatsoever."
Landmark Education, a for-profit progeny of Werner Erhard's EST program, runs weekend-long seminars at which participants are asked to unburden themselves of intimate life events in often-confrontational exchanges. The pricey sessions can last 15 straight hours.
"They tell you nothing is true," Glasgow says. "There is what happened and what you put on it. They say there's no right or wrong and there is no God. It went opposite of my Christian beliefs."
At the end, Glasgow says, participants are supposed to bring five friends to the session for a "graduation." Those new arrivals, says Glasgow, are then given the hard sell.
"At some point, I got their pattern down," Glasgow says. "They work you, find something emotional, and then pitch you more classes. I walked out."
The influence of Landmark even extended to the Growing Generations offices, Glasgow says. The top officials used Landmark lingo, he says, in their daily conversations—like "I want to enroll you in my possibilities" and "You've got to align with me on this."
Quarterly meetings skipped business topics and often devolved into emotional encounter-group sessions, he says, and employees had to meet with a "life coach" on staff each week.
"The Landmark philosophy is deeply ingrained in the culture of the company," says Brent Pelton, one of Glasgow's lawyers. Wallace, however, says that the company doesn't require employees to attend the seminars. "Many directors and many high-level supervisors have not attended any Landmark courses," says Wallace.
Glasgow claims the sexual harassment by CEO Miller began in the fall of 2006 with e-mails. Miller chose Glasgow as his roommate and insisted on sharing a king-size bed with him for both a cruise and a conference in New Orleans. At one point, he says, Miller caressed his head. "It was uncomfortable," Glasgow says.
Wallace, the company lawyer, says only that Glasgow and Miller, and Miller's domestic partner, had a very close friendship going back several years.
The end came in mid-May of last year, according to Glasgow: On the way to a conference in Philadelphia, Miller talked with Glasgow about why Glasgow had walked out of a Landmark meeting. Glasgow says he told Miller that he didn't want to attend any of the seminars.
"A few days later," he says, "I could do nothing right. In December, I spent the holidays at [Miller's] home, and a few months later he fired me."
Glasgow now works as a waiter.
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