A Christian dentist in Lake Orion, Mich., is being sued by four former employees for playing Christian music in her clinic and allegedly praying with staff members against their will. The former employees claim Tina Marshall, DDS, caused them distress by forcing her religion on them.
According to the Oxford Leader, several employee and patient issues arose after an area doctor, Craig Stasio, was rumored to have taken over Marshall's dentist office for a few days in 2015. Area residents referenced him as "Craig Stasio the Cult Chiropractor doctor" after local media and sheriff department representatives investigated his potential operation of a religious cult through his medical practice. He also became called "the Prophet."
He stated Marshall asked him to consult her.
Stasio explained his "following" is a "fellowship" and even a "fraternity" consisting of 20 to 30 people gathering on almost a daily basis, reports Oxford Leader. They are Christians in their mid-twenties to sixties, who are "getting together, eating, praying, worshiping, reading the Bible, and fellowshipping" in non-structured group gatherings.
Many of his followers had a "radical Christian conversion" after meeting Stasio, that produced "radical lifestyle changes in their lives," Stasio said.
According to the complaint, the employee plaintiffs to the lawsuit are "seeking damages for loss of past and future income and employment benefits, outrage, humiliation, embarrassment, mental anxiety, emotional distress, and loss of professional reputation."
The employees also claim that Marshall violated Michigan's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on religion, race, nationality, age, sex or marital status.
Christian Today reports a trial by jury will begin this summer.
Marshall's attorney Keith Jablonski denies his client violated any laws, and rather said she is being targeted for her faith by disgruntled former employees.
Marshall is "being attacked in this lawsuit for her Christian beliefs, based solely on her desire to play religious music and radio stations in the dental office of the business that she owns," Jablonski said.
Stasio's work for Marshall ended in the firing of two employees, and a couple others resigning from the practice, according to Oxford Leader.
Previous patient coordinator Sara Bambard told the Leader only one of Marshall's original nine employees still works at the office as a dental hygienist, and ministry members had filled the rest. She was promoted to office manager at the dental office before she left its employment.
Stasio said Bambard, Marshall and himself had all agreed on who to fire. Bambard quit after she fired the one of two dental hygienists.
Marshall said the office restructuring should have been handled months prior, after many employees didn't agree with internal changes. "It kind of all started a while ago when I wanted to play the Christian music."
She said some would turn the Christian music off, and turn the TV on in the waiting room against her will.
Stasio said as the owner of the business, Marshall should not feel like she was a prisoner in her own office, and that her employees were incompetent and disobeying her.
Marshall and her husband reportedly were friends with Stasio for about two years. They met at a home ministry group meeting hosted at the Marshall's Washington Township residence in which Stasio attended two years ago. Both of the Marshalls said they practice Christianity as part of Stasio's unstructured ministry.
When Marshall's husband, Jim, was asked if he felt like he was in a cult, he said, "absolutely not. I don't know why people come up with that. When Jesus was here on Earth, they actually said he was in a cult, it's in the Bible. We follow Jesus Christ, he's the one in Heaven, not Craig Stasio."