A former Consol Energy Inc. employee, who believes biometric hand scanning will lead to the “mark of the beast” predicted in the biblical book of Revelation, will receive nearly $587,000 in damages, a federal judge in West Virginia ruled last week.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Consol in 2013, claiming the company failed to accommodate Beverly R. Butcher Jr.’s religious beliefs. According to the lawsuit, he is an evangelical Christian.
Butcher, 58, retired in 2012 when the company installed a hand scanner to log employees in and out of its Robinson Run Mine complex near Shinnston, W.Va. He objected to having either of his hands scanned and being asked to manually log his hours, the lawsuit stated.
A jury in Clarksburg agreed in January that the Cecil-based company failed to accommodate Butcher’s religious belief and awarded him $150,000 in damages. U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp on Aug. 21 added $436,860.74 for back pay and front pay.
“This victory underscores two important American values: religious freedom and inclusiveness,” EEOC general counsel David Lopez said.
Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., which bought Robinson Run Mine and four other Consol mines in West Virginia in 2013, will appeal the decision, Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent said.
“The record is clear that Mr. Butcher failed to follow the contractually required dispute resolution procedures,” he said. “Further, Consolidation Coal Co. made a reasonable accommodation for his religious beliefs and never discriminated against Mr. Butcher.”
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or [email protected].