LATEST: A status hearing on a lawsuit filed against Carlos Santana and his wife DEBORAH has been pushed back to January (06).

The Grammy-winning musician and his spouse were slapped with a lawsuit from former employee BRUCE KUHLMAN, who claims the couple fired him because he wasn't spiritual enough.

Kuhlman, a former personal assistant to Santana for 16 years, alleges wrongful termination and age, gender and religious discrimination, as well as failure to pay contractual licensing commissions and overtime.

Carlos and Deborah Santana suffered a setback in August (05) when Judge JOHN SUTRO turned down their request to send the dispute to arbitration. A status conference, originally scheduled to take place yesterday (11OCT05) at California's Marin County Superior Court, has been postponed to January.

The Santanas are appealing Sutro's decision.

In his lawsuit, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Kuhlman claims Deborah Santana directed him to meet with a "Dr Dan" to improve "his consciousness or awareness level" in a bid to "bring him closer to God and make him a better worker".

Kuhlman, 59, claims he was dismissed last year (04), shortly after he missed his third appointment with Dr Dan.

A statement, released by the Santanas, reads, "Bruce was placed in a position of responsibility, but was unable to perform his job at the level required.

"He was given support and every opportunity to succeed. Bruce was treated fairly and terminated only after it was clear that he could not perform the job he was given."