In the recent case of EEOC v. Consol Energy, Inc., 1:13-cv-00215 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia (more info), the claimant, 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 company required employees to use a newly installed biometric hand scanner to track employee time and attendance, Butcher repeatedly informed company officials that submitting to biometric hand scanning violated his sincerely held religious beliefs as an Evangelical Christian. He wrote a letter to company officials explaining his beliefs about the relationship between hand-scanning technology and the “Mark of the Beast” and the Antichrist discussed in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. Mr. Butcher requested an exemption from the hand scanning as a reasonable accommodation based on his sincerely held religious beliefs.
Consol argued that Butcher admitted that the current version hand scanner left no actual mark; however, he testified that these scanners “are being used as part of a system of identification being put into place that will be used to serve the antichrist as foretold in the New Testament Book of Revelation and which creates an identifier for followers of the antichrist known as ‘The Mark of the Beast,’” and that “[t]he fact that a believer draws a line at the first step in what he sincerely believes to be an immoral process rather than the last step of that process does not alter the employer’s accommodation duty.”
The EEOC repudiated Consol’s attempts to poke holes in the logic of Butcher’s beliefs, contending that it is unconstitutional for Consol to demand theological accuracy or consistency. “[A]s EEOC has previously pointed out, and as the Court instructed the jury, religious beliefs need not be seen as rational, doctrinally consistent, or accurate in order to be protected under Title VII.”
The jury in this case unanimously awarded Mr. Butcher $150,000 in compensatory damages. The Court also ordered that Consol Energy must also pay Butcher an additional $436,860.74 in back pay and front pay for the Title VII violations found by the jury.
If you believe you are a victim of religious discrimination, or your employer is failing to accommodate your firmly held religious beliefs, you should seek the advice of an experienced employment law attorney. Call or request a free consultation with Goodin Abernathy’s Indianapolis Employment Lawyers.