My employer has started a 7-week series of classes, to which all employees currently on the clock are expected to attend. We are paid for the time the same as if we had been working. The self-help classes are by a "Foot Zone" therapist, and so far have involved both pseudo-science and religious undertones and terminology specific to the LDS ("Mormon") faith. The subject matter falls far, far outside the scope of work at our small software company. (Here's an article about the speaker, Julie Cheney)
Both the CEO and our one HR employee (small company, about 40 employees) are fully in support of these classes. These two people backing these classes means that even if it's not technically mandatory, there's certainly pressure for employees to attend or to at least not complain openly about it.
Everyone in attendance was under the impression that it was mandatory, though at the end there was an unclear comment by the CEO indicating that it might not be truly mandatory.
I plan to have a 1-on-1 talk with my manager to bring up the problems I have with this series of courses. I expect he will then bring it up with upper management and/or HR. I have plenty of good points and I already know that this manager disliked the class fairly strongly.
In the US, and in Utah, are there any laws prohibiting or proscribing this sort of thing by an employer? Does it matter if they are mandatory, as opposed to strongly encouraged but technically not mandatory?
UPDATE: As of Friday, Jan 8th, it's officially mandatory. Good grief.