PITTSBURGH – Canonsburg, Pa.-based CONSOL Energy and Consolidation Coal Company violated federal law when they forced a long-time employee to retire because they refused to accommodate his religious beliefs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Beverly R. Butcher, Jr. had worked as a general inside laborer at the companies’ mine in Mannington, W.V., for over 35 years when the mining companies required employees to use a newly installed biometric hand scanner to track employee time and attendance. Butcher repeatedly told mining officials that submitting to a biometric hand scanner violated his sincerely held religious beliefs as an Evangelical Christian. He also wrote the mining superintendent and human resources manager a letter explaining the relationship between hand-scanning technology and the Mark of the Beast and antichrist discussed in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament and requesting an exemption from the hand scanning based on his religious beliefs.
The mining companies 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 charges that Butcher was forced to retire because the companies refused to provide an accommodation to his religious beliefs.
If that seems unnecessarily vague, welcome to Government World!
However the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette put it rather more baldly:
Mr. Butcher, who started at the mine in 1977 and with Consol two years earlier, said he feared the scanner would imprint him with the “mark of the Beast,” a reference to a passage from the book of Revelation in the Bible.
When he approached human resources officials at the company to discuss alternative options, they showed him a letter from the scanner manufacturer, Recognition Systems Inc., which, using all capital letters, attempted to make clear that its hand scanners “do not in any way have the ability to detect … or place the ‘mark of the Beast’ or any other mark on a person’s hand.”
This isn’t the first time the subject has come up, since the manufacturer’s letter dates back to 1998. The letter suggests that those still not relieved by the company’s assurance can opt to place their left hand with the palm up in the scanner, explaining that, “The Scriptures, regardless of version, consistently refer to the ‘mark of the Beast’ being found or placed only on the RIGHT hand or forehead.”
In later court testimony, he explained that anything having to do with the hands — either hand — would put him in danger and, as an Evangelical Christian who believes that everything in the Bible is literally true, he could not use the machine.
Some lawyers got involved, a trial was held, the result of which — unsurprisingly — was that the court allowed as how Mr. Butcher had every right not to have the Mark of the Beast forced upon his person.
Jesus H. Fucking Christ. So this evangelical yahoo gets $150K in punitive damages, with the judge still deciding whether he will also get lost pay and bennies.
I tell you what; I’m about ready to only listen to the 2016 presidential beauty pageant contenders. At least those bozos don’t publicly yammer on about imaginary beings.