WASHINGTON (CN) - The former opinion editor at The Washington Times says executives pressured him to attend religious services, then fired him for refusing to sign bogus paperwork. Richard Miniter says he was persuaded to attend a mass wedding in New York City in January hosted by the Unification Church. The church is led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who founded the paper in 1982 and who claims to be the Messiah.
Miniter, who was working with the paper as a consultant, says he was told by then-publisher Thomas McDevitt that "it would be 'good'" for him to make the trip to New York to attend the religious services.
"Miniter took this to mean that if he didn't go, it would count negatively against his prospects at The Washington Times and of being offered permanent executive employment there," according to the lawsuit filed in District Court in Washington, D.C.
Miniter says he felt "extremely uncomfortable" while attending the event, but says he "was made to feel as if he had no choice." He says he was hired as editorial page editor the next month.
Soon after starting, however, Miniter had heart-related problems, and indicated he'd need time off for doctor's appointments.
He says that's when Sonya Jenkins, the paper's vice president of human resources, began pressuring him to sign a document claiming that her son lived at his house so that the boy could continue going to school in Arlington, Va., after his family moved to Maryland.
Minister says he refused, and that Jenkins retaliated by investigating him.
Miniter says the paper then tried to get him to sign a new contract that required him to find advertisers for the paper. He says he was ultimately fired for refusing to sign the new contract.
According to the lawsuit, the paper has lost about $2 billion over the past 27 years, and that it relies on a $40 million subsidy from the church to stay alive.
The lawsuit says about 370 workers will face layoffs in the next 60 days.
Miniter seeks unspecified damages for breach of contract. He also wants to stop defendants from trying to hide assets.
He is represented by Larry Klayman.
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