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Tue Mar 2, 2021, 02:07 PM Mar 2021

How Scientologist Execs at Media Company e.Republic Made Workers' Lives a Living Hell

Ryan Gallant needed a change of pace. He taught French at a local California middle school, but his salary barely covered his bills. To supplement his income, he worked the late shift at a Mendocino Farms deli. Then, in January of 2019, Gallant finally found an upgrade: a research analyst position at a Folsom-based marketing and media firm called e.Republic. Glassdoor reviews for the company were mixed. Some staff were effusive. “Healthy environment, great people!!!” one employee wrote in 2018. The rest were unequivocally negative. One reviewer titled their assessment: “Worst Job I Ever Had.” Another called theirs: “Beware!”

The bad reviews shared a common theme: The company’s owners, executives, and much of its upper management were high-ranking members of the Church of Scientology. “The company made me right [sic] a positive review to counteract all the negative reviews they were getting because of their affiliation with Scientology,” an ex-employee wrote. “As one reviewer stated, the best day at e.Republic is the day you leave.”

Gallant took the job anyway. He figured his new bosses’ religion wouldn’t impact much. It hadn’t, after all, kept the firm from dealing with dozens of big-name tech companies—Google, AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Cisco—or maintaining relationships with well-known politicians, like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. (The offices of Garcetti and Burgum did not respond to requests for comment.)

After he started, Gallant noticed the company had some quirks. Its infrastructure seemed antiquated, and priorities seemed almost random. One executive gave frequent seminars on building a “personal brand,” occasionally ruminating on the importance of “cute hats”; the C-suite regularly gave out CDs of Christmas-themed New Jazz, recorded by the president and her husband. But some peculiarities concerned Gallant more than others. For one, the pay was meager; internal payroll documents from 2013 showed starting salaries as low as $24,960, even as executives were compensated more than $10,000 per hour. The days were long—he regularly clocked 10-hour shifts. And the staff was highly-surveilled. Managers would take long, curving sweeps around the office so frequently, an ex-research director claimed, that workers developed a code word for them: sentries.

“It was like a ‘70s factory,’ another former researcher said. “They would call people out for taking slightly too long of breaks… like, ‘Reminder staff: Your breaks are to be 10 minutes. Some of you are going for walks and it’s clearly over 10 minutes.’”

Gallant said he had informed his boss that he suffered from Crohn’s disease, a condition that can cause chronic fatigue. About a year into his employment he was diagnosed with another rare condition: secondary polycythemia. “I was physically and mentally exhausted,” he said. “They knew I was dealing with medical issues, knew I was overworked, but did absolutely nothing.” Gallant relied heavily on his therapist, though the services weren’t covered by the company’s insurance. He also started to see a psychiatrist for the stress. Over the course of his two-year employment, according to receipts reviewed by The Daily Beast, he would pay over $9,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for mental health care.

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