$150,000 for ‘Mark of the Beast’ man
Back in 2013, Tommy Eden, an employment law attorney in Alabama, wrote on his blog that companies should ‘reasonably accommodate’ the religious beliefs of their employees, and avoid ‘engaging in a Bible sword drill’ with them.
He was commenting on the case of Beverly R Butcher Jr, an evangelical Christian and an employee at the Consolidation Coal Company in West Virginia, part of Consol Energy Inc.
The company had installed an attendance tracking system for payroll purposes at their Robinson Run Mine that required employees to electronically sign-in using a biometric hand scanner.
Butcher cited religious reasons for refusing to submit to scanning in a letter to his employers. In it he explained:
The relationship between hand scanning technology and the Mark of the Beast and the anti-Christ as discussed in the Bible.
That’s when the “Bible sword drill” came into play. His managers responded by handing Butcher a letter written by its scanner provider, Recognition Systems, Inc.
The letter discussed the vendor’s interpretation of Chapter 13, Verse 16 of the Book of Revelation contained in the Bible; pointed out that the text of that verse references the Mark of the Beast only on the right hand and forehead; and suggested that persons with concerns about the Mark of the Beast “be enrolled” with their left hand and palm facing up.
The letter concluded with an assurance the scanner does not, in fact, have any connections with “the Mark of the Beast”.
Butcher, who worked for the mine for 35 years, proposed that he continue submitting his time and attendance manually as he had previously done, or that he be permitted to check in and check out with his supervisor.
But Butchers managers told him told him to submit to hand scanning, using his left hand turned palm up rather than his right hand.
Butcher rejected their offer, stating that he was prohibited by his religion from submitting to scanning of either hand. The managers declined to accommodate Butcher’s request to be exempted from the biometric sign-in, telling him that he would be subject to disciplinary action if he refused to use the biometric hand scanning system.
Butcher promptly retired and specifically informed his managers that he was leaving involuntarily. He said he was doing so under protest and felt that he had no choice but to retire because of their refusal to grant the requested exemption.
At least two persons employed at the Robinson Run Mine at the time that Butcher requested religious accommodation were permitted exemptions from biometric hand scanning due to missing fingers. These two persons were permitted to submit their time and attendance by other means.
Butcher then filed a charge claiming religious discrimination – and earlier this month he won $150,000 in compensatory damages.
At a later hearing, Senior Judge Frederick P Stamp Jr will decide back pay and front pay owed to Butcher.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had sued Consol Energy on behalf of Butcher, and jury found that Butcher:
Had a sincere religious belief that conflicted with an employment requirement.
The jury also found that Consol Energy failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for Butcher’s beliefs and that it wouldn’t have been an “undue hardship” to do so.
Consol Energy Inc will appeal to the Fourth Circuit, according to one of its attorneys, Jeff Grove.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn