MOUNDSVILLE – A Moundsville man claims he was wrongfully fired from his construction and maintenance job with a Hare Krishna community in Marshall County.
Joshua Hawley filed his lawsuit in Marshall Circuit Court against ISKCON New Vrindaban Inc., which is a non-profit religious organization that oversees the unincorporated area of New Vrindiban near Moundsville.
In his complaint, Hawley says he was hired by ISKCON New Vrindaban Inc. on Oct. 27, 2014, as the department head of Construction & Maintenance. In November, he claims he began suffering harassment and hostility from other employees and agents of the defendant.
He claims he was threatened by co-workers Dhara Dasi (aka Diane Harris) and Tejo Das (aka Anthony Ricardi). He says they threatened his life.
“Plaintiff was informed by Dhara and Tejo that people like him get taken out, that he should watch his back, and that many bodies are buried around the worksite and that the same can happen again,” the complaint states.
Hawley says he reported the threats to his manager Vasudeva Das (aka Oscar Maduri) and to department overseer Abhinanda Das. He says he also mailed Jaya Krsna Das (aka Josef Insling) and board member Mangala Das. He also told them Dhara was an illegal immigrant.
He says he emailed Insling again in January to speak about the issues. Insling said he would address the matter, but Hawley says nothing was done. Hawley says he then submitted a report to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services about the incidents and Dhara’s citizenship.
Hawley says he was terminated on Jan. 19. He claims the defendant forced him to risk serious injury or death to keep his job, and he says the defendant forced him to work in dangerous situations intentionally and recklessly.
“The acts … were done in an outrageous manner and were so extreme as to be intolerable in a civilized society,” the complaint states.
Hawley also says his termination was a result of his complaints and reporting of the harassment and threats made on him in the workplace. He also says he was wrongfully evicted from his residence in the New Vrindaban community, and that he was harassed by phone and written messages about his eviction. He also claims his is a victim of religious discrimination.
He said others in New Vrindaban “made several derogatory statements toward plaintiff based on his religious beliefs as he was a non-Hindu working for an organization who favors Hindus,” the complaint states. He says the defendant “told their children to avoid plaintiff because of his religious beliefs.”
Hawley seeks compensatory damages for lost wages, lost benefits, future loss of earnings, future loss of benefits, emotional distress, anxiety, fear, embarrassment, humiliation, physical pain and financial hardship. He also seeks punitive damages as well as attorney fees, court costs, interest and other relief.
He is represented by Erika Klie Kolenich and Karl Kolenich of Klie Law Offices PLLC in Buckhannon. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jeffrey Cramer.
New Vrindaban, the town of about 1,200 acres and 350 residents, includes the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple and Phabhupada’s Palace of Gold. New Vrindaban was founded in 1968 under the direct guidance of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. New Vrindaban is named after the Indian city of Vrindavan. New Vrindaban was founded in 1968 under the direct guidance of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The town is named after the Indian city of Vrindavan.
ISKCON New Vrindaban is overseen by a Board of Directors consisting of long-standing community members who oversee land and legal issues.
Marshall Circuit Court case number: 15-C-112