A California judge has rejected significant parts of a lawsuit brought against Christian family counselor James Dobson by one of Dobson's former colleagues, while turning down Dobson's request to dismiss the suit entirely.
The complaint was filed November 1988 in Superior Court in Pomona, Calif., by Gilbert and Carolyn Alexander-Moegerle. Gilbert Alexander-Moegerle helped to found Focus on the Family with Dobson in 1977 and served as co-host of the organization's popular radio program from 1978 to 1985.
After Alexander-Moegerle's first wife, Ruth, filed for divorce in 1985, Dobson dismissed Alexander-Moergerle from the radio show and assigned him to the organization's film division. After the divorce became final in early 1987, Moegerle met Carolyn Alexander, another Dobson employee, and they announced plans to marry in June 1987.
According to court papers filed by the Alexander-Moegerles, Dobson then said the appearance of a divorced and remarried official at Focus on the Family could damage the group's credibility in campaigning for traditional families. Dobson asked that both employees resign.
Pomona Judge Theodore Platt ruled this week that the Alexander-Moegerles could not sue for wrongful dismissal because a court cannot rule on how a religious organization applies its religious values to its employees.
But the judge said he would allow trial on other accusations in the lawsuit. These include allegations that Dobson caused the couple severe emotional distress, invaded their privacy and interfered with Alexander-Moegerle's new business in a company that produces programs for ministers.