An employee who refused to submit to biometric hand scanning because he feared the scanner would imprint him with the “Mark of the Beast,” was awarded $150,000 in damages by a federal jury last week.
Last Thursday a federal jury ruled in favor of Beverly R. Butcher Jr., a general laborer at the Consol Energy/Consolidation Coal Co.’s Mannington mining operations, who said he was forced to retire because of his religious beliefs after refusing to use new biometric technology used to track employee attendance and time.
Butcher refused to use the new technology because he feared the technology was associated with the Antichrist and would imprint him with the “Mark of The Beast,” a reference to a passage from the book of Revelation in the Bible.
Despite a letter from the scanner manufacturer, Recognition Systems Inc., which emphasized 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,” Butcher refused to utilize the technology, claiming it violated his religious beliefs.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Consol Energy on behalf of Butcher for allegedly forcing the long-time mine worker to retire because the companies’ newly installed technology violated his religious beliefs.
The federal agency’s filing asserted Butcher, an evangelical Christian, was told he must submit to biometric hand scanning for time and attendance tracking, even though using the scanner went against his religious beliefs.
The jury found that Butcher “had a sincere religious belief that conflicted with an employment requirement” and that Butcher informed his employer of that belief.
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.
Thursday’s jury award of $150,000 is for punitive damages. A judge will now consider whether Butcher is entitled to backpay and other compensation from the company.
Consol Energy plans to appeal the ruling.