Compliance » Worker Fearing “Mark Of the Beast” Prevails in Fourth Circuit

Worker Fearing “Mark Of the Beast” Prevails in Fourth Circuit

June 28, 2017

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The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the EEOC, upholding a religious discrimination claim involving a mine employee who refused to be subject to the company’s biometric hand scanner time-keeping device, on the grounds it would be tantamount to receiving the Mark of the Beast. The miner, Beverly R. Butcher, Jr., had worked at a West Virginia coal mine owned by Consol Energy Co for 37 years “without incident,” according to the Fourth Circuit’s decision. He was also a lifelong evangelical Christian and an ordained minister. As the court explained it, “Butcher’s understanding of the biblical Book of Revelation is that the Mark of the Beast brands followers of the Antichrist, allowing the Antichrist to manipulate them. And use of Consol’s hand-scanning system, Butcher feared, would result in being so ‘marked,’ for even without any physical or visible sign, his willingness to undergo the scan – whether with his right hand or his left – could lead to his identification with the Antichrist.” While the company refused to accommodate Butcher, it had been willing to make an accommodation for two workers who had hand injuries that rendered them unable to use the machine. They were allowed to enter their ID numbers on a keypad. Labor and employment attorney Bill Wright, in a discussion of this case on the Sherman & Howard website, finds a simple lesson in this case. “As an employer,” he writes, “don’t get into a dispute of biblical proportions over a simple timekeeping accommodation. If it had been anything more than de minimis, Title VII would not have required the employer to provide the accommodation.”


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