SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – An attorney says he was forced to quit his job after a law firm docked his pay because he refused to go to a seminar where he feared he would be “stripped naked, not allowed to leave, be required to discuss details of his sex life, handle a wooden dildo, and potentially allow other men to touch his genitals.” The lawyer claims his supervising attorney told him that the New Warrior Training seminar would help him “have closer, stronger, and better relationships with men.”
Steven Eggleston sued Bisnar/Chase LLP and its partners, John Bisnar and Brian Chase, on 13 charges in Orange County Court, including sexual harassment, retaliation, failure to pay wages, breach of contract, fraudulent concealment and unfair business practices.
Eggleston claims Bisnar/Chase hired him in July 2009 with “a draw of $15,000 per month,” plus one-third of the fee for the cases he brought to the firm.
After about 2 months on the job, Eggleston claims, his supervising attorney, Bisnar, told him, “There is a seminar you need to go to. I can’t tell you that you have to go as a requirement of your employment but, Steve, you really need to go to this.”
When Eggleston asked for more information about the seminar, Bisnar “was evasive and would not provide much detail” but said that “it would help Eggleston to learn to interact better with the men he knows. … Bisnar went on to say how men in society do not have close relationships and that this seminar would help Eggleston to have closer, stronger, and better relationships with men,” according to the complaint.
The seminar, called New Warrior Training, was to be given by The Mankind Project. The complaint adds: “Eggleston kept trying to get more information about the seminar from Bisnar, but Bisnar refused to answer, explaining that the things that took place at the seminar were secret and that men who attended had to take an oath not to reveal to outsiders what took place.”
Eggleston says he did a Google search and found reports that men participated in a “trust walk” where they were “stripped naked, blindfolded, and then led on a walk through the woods holding the hand of one of the supervisory men.”
“Another activity included 30 to 50 men sitting naked in a circle on the floor of a candlelit room called the smoke hut. A large wooden dildo called ‘The Cock’ was passed around the room. The man holding ‘The Cock’ was asked to describe in graphic detail a sexual experience from his life. One Internet report stated that a supervisor told attendees that they could place their hand on the penis of the man next to them. However, if the man did not want his penis touched, he was free to remove the hand.
“Attendees were yelled at, had smoke blown in their faces, and were subject to intimidation tactics. Some organizations recommended that men attend the New Warrior Training in order to cure themselves of being homosexuals. Some Internet postings indicated that men attend the New Warrior Training to learn to accept their homosexuality. A wrongful death lawsuit had been filed against The Mankind Project by the family of a man who attended the Warrior Training Seminar. The man allegedly committed suicide a few weeks after attending the seminar.
“Eggleston was understandably concerned about what he read on the Internet.”
Eggleston adds that according to the Internet reports he read, The Mankind Project encouraged participants to carpool with other men because there was not enough parking at the event’s remote location, but really it was to keep participants from leaving. There were “reports by attendees who said that they wanted to leave but they were intimidated into staying” and some were told that “it was not fair to make other men leave just to drive them home,” according to the complaint.
The seminars were held at “remote locations, away from civilization” and when participants arrived, “all of their personal belongings are taken away from them,” the Internet reports said.
Eggleston says he did not want to go, for fear that “Bisnar, his supervising attorney, would also attend the seminar and that he might be required to sit naked in a room with Bisnar, that Bisnar might decide to touch his penis, or that he might be required to disclose details about his sex life to Bisnar.”
Eggleston says that when he refused to go, Bisnar became hostile and tried to pressure him into signing up for a seminar at a later date. He claims that Bisnar also reduced his pay from a draw of $15,000 per month to $10,000.
Eggleston says he did not want to attend the seminar at a later date because he “still did not want to attend a seminar where he might be required to talk about his sex life, hear others talk about their sex lives, or handle ‘The Cock.'”
When Bisnar learned that Eggleston would not attend the seminar, he stopped paying him a draw and “said that he would only receive money from cases that settled,” according to the complaint.
In February, Bisnar allegedly “walked into Eggleston’s office and asked, ‘How are you doing personally?’ Eggleston replied that he could not pay his mortgage since Bisnar had stopped paying him. Bisnar replied, ‘You should be stressed. If you weren’t stressed out I would think you were selling drugs.'”
Eggleston says he quit in March this year, and that since then, Bisnar/Chase has continued to retaliate by, among other things, refusing to provide accountings about cases he brought to the firm.
Eggleston seeks lost wages, punitive damages and an injunction and costs. He is represented by Kathleen Hartman with Callahan, Thompson, Sherman and Caudill, of Irvine.