A Pennsylvania mining company sued by the federal government on behalf of a worker who refused a biometric handscan because he believes in the Bible’s mark of the beast prophecy, said on Thursday that it supports religious freedom.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission filed a lawsuit against Consul Energy Inc, stating that Beverly Butcher Jr. had worked at the company’s coal mine in Mannington, West Virginia, for more than 35 years, until he was required to use a biometric hand scanner to track his hours.
Consul, with headquarters in Western Pennsylvania, was accused of discriminating against Butcher, who repeatedly told mining officials that using the scanner violated his Evangelical Christian beliefs, given his view of the relationship between hand-scanning technology and the mark of the beast in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation, the lawsuit said.
According to the Christian Bible, the mark is implanted on the forehead or right hand and symbolizes allegiance to the antichrist.
Well, of course…
The EEOC notes:
The mining [company] refused to consider alternate means of tracking Butcher’s time and attendance, such as allowing him to submit manual time records as he had done previously or reporting to his supervisor, even though the mining company had made similar exceptions to the hand scanning for two employees with missing fingers.
The EEOC is arguing that Butcher was forced to retire because his employer refused to accomodate his religious beliefs. The test is whether “the employer can provide an accommodation without incurring an undue hardship”.
We don’t, it should be stressed, know all the background to this case, but from the facts as presented here, it does seem odd that Consul was not prepared to be just a little more accommodating of someone who had been with them for a very long time.
Whether the company should be compelled to do so is an entirely different question.