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Thread: refusal to use biometric scanner Florida

  1. #1
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    Default refusal to use biometric scanner Florida

    is there anything illegal about firing an employee who refuses to use a biometric hand scanner for time in/out purposes? can the employee site religious reasons?
    Last edited by nummy; 06-25-2009 at 04:45 PM.

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    Waaaaay outside my area of expertise. I can give you a starting point.

    http://www.eeoc.gov/types/religion.html
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    I am unaware of any religion that specifically outlaws the use of biometric scanners.
    Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

    I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

    Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.

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    We use biometric scanners and no one has protested it yet much less citing religious reasons. If someone is protesting based on their relgious beliefs, I'd be wanting to know exactly how putting a finger on a scanner violates religious beliefs in their mind.
    To me, it sounds like someone doesnt want to be accountable for clocking in times and is using this as an excuse but thats my opinion. I'd love to hear the employee's rationale.

    Once you get a rationale let us know what it is and we may be able to give more guidance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nummy View Post
    is there anything illegal about firing an employee who refuses to use a biometric hand scanner for time in/out purposes? can the employee site religious reasons?
    Can they? Sure. But it sounds like a bunch of baloney to me. If the employee does raise this issue, you need to talk at length with the employee to determine precisely what "religious reasons" he or she is referring to and then make a determination whether you have any duty to accommodate.

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    *please note that this is not legal advice*

    The argument, and I am not saying that it is a valid one, is that the biometric scanner takes several measurementsof the hand. These measurements are then run through an algorithm to determine a unique multi-digit identifier for that specific hand. That multi-digit identifier could contain the numeric sequence 666. Certain Christian denominations are opposed to this number as being the number or sign of the beast (devil) and that by using a hand scanner, this mark is then on your hand, which is apparently a sign of the end of days according to Revelations.

    Employees doing Internet research can find stories of religious discrimination complaints making this argument. Again, I'm not stating that the employee will prevail, but an analysis should be made of the opposition to using the scanner as opposed to simply dismissing the employee's complaint.

    Mr. Pink

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    Interesting, Mr. Pink. Just my personal opinion but I think that's just nuts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pink View Post
    *please note that this is not legal advice*

    The argument, and I am not saying that it is a valid one, is that the biometric scanner takes several measurementsof the hand. These measurements are then run through an algorithm to determine a unique multi-digit identifier for that specific hand. That multi-digit identifier could contain the numeric sequence 666. Certain Christian denominations are opposed to this number as being the number or sign of the beast (devil) and that by using a hand scanner, this mark is then on your hand, which is apparently a sign of the end of days according to Revelations.

    Employees doing Internet research can find stories of religious discrimination complaints making this argument. Again, I'm not stating that the employee will prevail, but an analysis should be made of the opposition to using the scanner as opposed to simply dismissing the employee's complaint.

    Mr. Pink
    Um, that's the craziest thing I have ever read.

    You are saying that biometrics cannot be used on the off chance that a triple six may come up in the algorithm?

    Really?

    So, any time a person is assigned a numeric identifier... and that includes everything from SSN's to License plates to quick pick lottery numbers... there is a case for religious discrimination?

    That would be wrong and completely without legal precedent or case law. Further, while some jurisdictions are sensitive to such things (they don't put 666 or SEX on license plates, for instance) they have no legal obligation to do so.
    Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

    I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

    Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.

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    Oh brother! Just when you think you have heard it all.
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    There is a passive-aggressive side of me who would like to respond to such an employee by saying something like, "I'd like to respond to such a request but my religious beliefs prevent me from responding to bullshxx. And that's the 665th time I've heard bullshxx this year!"

    I guess the argument regarding not using the scanner because the algorithm might contain 666 means one cannot also do the following:

    Ever use a person's name (the letters might translate into or add up to numbers which contain 666)

    Ever use a telephone since dialing numbers might add up to 666

    Watch TV...if you watch enough shows eventually you will have watched the 666th one

    Eat food...you would not want to eat your 666th meal of the year

    Drive a car...you never know what house numbers you might be passing. And all car odometers contain the number six in each decimal place, and eventually you will drive past 665 miles, or 1665 miles, etc.

    I could go on with even more examples of this assinine arguement.
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    It's not quite that broad based, TMP. Rev. 13:16-18 specifically identifies the "mark of the beast" as the number 666. It is specifically indicated as appearing on the forehead OR THE HAND.

    It is fact that there are religious denominations who truly believe that if the number 666 appears on your hand (or forehead) you will be denied admittance to the Kingdom of Heaven. To these people, such a mark has a very serious religous consequences.

    Do I believe this? Heck no. I'm a Christian, but I take my basis for salvation from John 3:16, not from Revelations.

    But I would think that an employee who truly believed the above, and there are folks who do, would be as entitled to a religious accomodation, if one exists, as would be an employee who wanted Yom Kippur, Good Friday, or the last day of Ramadan off to celebrate their high Holy Day.

  12. #12

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    Let me interject just slightly here...and maybe I am off, but our company uses these biometric hand scans as well. Being the Time and Attendance guru that I am, I am in charge of htese devices. If the measurements produce an a number such as 666, then something is not right with the initial scan. We have been using these devices for some time now and we rarely see the number go above 100. The 'score' you recieve is different each time you clock in or out and it is based upon the inital 'registered' scan and how closely it matched up.

    I would call the religious claim as bogus. If the employee is seeing a regular 'score' of over 100, then they need to have thier hand re-registered.

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    Our biometric clock uses an index finger only, not the hand. I wonder how that would fall into all of this. Strange.
    I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
    Thomas Jefferson

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    It's not a question of whether the "score" regularly goes over 100. Unless you can provide verifiable proof that the score will never and cannot under any circumstances whatsoever produce a 666, individuals who truly believe this will not want to risk their afterlife to a possibly malfunctioning machine.

    Understand that I am not saying this particular poster's employee has a valid claim. I have no way of assessing whether this specific individual truly believes this (what you and I consider nonsense) or not. What I am saying is that to individuals who do have this belief, and they do exist (I know some) this is a very real issue with overwhelming consequences.

    I'm not about to say whether someone else's beliefs are bogus just because I do not share them.

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    Sorry.... Just trying to help and give information.

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    Understood, and it's good information to have. I just don't think we can judge what someone's beliefs are.

    I have relatives who believe this. I think they're total nutcases, but they're SINCERE total nutcases.

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    I was not judging. I stand by my claim and many of the other posters when I say I don't think this person is on the up and up. I am sure many people do have a certain belief system that would give them concerns, but a biometric timeclock is not something that warrants this concern. Refusal to use the timekeeping system because of religious beliefs is an excuse, not reality.

    Again - this my area of expertise, and I can tell you that this person claiming a religious reason is bogus. Not thier religion, but thier excuse.

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    Please understand, I don't disagree with you. I completely agree that their concerns are warrantless.

    But when it comes to religious accomodations, the EEOC is not going to look at whether or not they have reason for concern. Religious accomodations are based on WHAT THE EMPLOYEE BELIEVES TO BE TRUE.

    If the employee has a sincere religious belief that use of a biometric scanner will jeopardize their ascent into heaven, then the employer is obligated to try to accomodate regardless of whether you, I or the fencepost agree with them.

    It's about beliefs, not reality. You and I and the OP don't get to decide if their beliefs warrant accomodation.

    IF the employee is simply making this up, as you evidently believe, in order to avoid using the scanner, then they are not entitled to any kind of accomodation.

    But if they actually do believe this, then they are.

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    >>Religious accomodations are based on WHAT THE EMPLOYEE BELIEVES TO BE TRUE.<<

    CB, I agree with everything you've said, and thanks for clarifying that the issue involves the head or the hands. But I guess there comes a point where even if the ee truly believes that, it is so out in left field that accomodating their religious belief sounds ludicrous.

    I'd love to see what a court would have to say on this specific situation, and I am in no position to guarantee the OP that a court would throw such a complaint (failure to accomodate someone's religious beliefs) out. But if a court were to side with a plaintiff on a case so bizarre such as this, then I'd wager that judge is forever going to be judged in the same light as the three million dollar cup of Mickey D's coffee.

    Keep in mind there are literally millions of people in this world who hold sincere religious beliefs that all Christians and Jews (not to mention Americans of any faith) should be killed on sight. Anyone want to volunteer to accomodate them?

    PS: Anyone who has ever worked in a mental insitution will tell you the place is full of people with all kinds of sincere, albeit bizarre, religious beliefs. At one time when I was running a maximum security psych ward I had locked up (in adjacent cells) both God and the Devil (not to mention two Jesuses and Hank Williams, but that is another story) and both believed the other should be destroyed. Which one should I have accomodated?
    Last edited by The Masked Poster; 06-26-2009 at 10:54 AM.
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    I also agree and not that it is relevant to the US, but in Canada, there was an exact case of this in 407 ETR Concession Co. and C.A.W.-Canada, local 414. very interesting on how the Canadian Supreme court looked at this as well as the arbritrator.
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    Remember, religous accomodations are required WHEN POSSIBLE.

    I have no way of assessing either the actual beliefs of the OP's employee, or the availabilty of any reasonable accomodations.

    In case it still isn't clear to anyone, I am not saying that the OP is required to accomodate this particular belief; only that if the employee's beliefs are sincere, that the employer is required to at least investigate WHETHER OR NOT an accomodation can be made. If it cannot, so be it.

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    mlane, thanks for posting that. How bizarre! I think I'm going to Micky D's for a cup of coffee and spill it in my lap because the world has just gotten a whole crazier. Or maybe I would be better off just finding a cave someplace and curling up in some dark corner for the rest of my life.

    To quote from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long, "One man's religion is another man's belly laugh." Or to put it the way a friend of mine used to say it, "God gave the WORD, and that was good. Then man interpreted the WORD in his own image until it became an abomination."
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Masked Poster View Post
    mlane, thanks for posting that. How bizarre! I think I'm going to Micky D's for a cup of coffee and spill it in my lap because the world has just gotten a whole crazier. Or maybe I would be better off just finding a cave someplace and curling up in some dark corner for the rest of my life.
    Don't bother, both have been done and you wouldn't get any self satisfation out of it. Nothing a couple of yeager bombs won't cure.
    Somedays you're the windshield and somedays you're the bug.

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    When you come right down to it, is it any more bizzare than, say, some of the Catholics' pre-Vatican II beliefs? Eat a pork chop on a Friday, die before you can confess it and the best option you've got for all eternity is purgatory.

    Let's face it, trying to apply logic to religion is going to tie your brain in a knot no matter what religion you're talking about.

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    So, if what matters are religious beliefs that the employee BELIEVES to be true, if I think that taking my picture involves the camera "stealing my soul" then I can opt out of mandatory company photo ID's?
    Where does it end?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TSCompliance View Post
    if I think that taking my picture involves the camera "stealing my soul" then I can opt out of mandatory company photo ID's?
    Actually, isn't that a tenet of the Muslim religion?
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    Where should it end? Why does it have to end?

    I'm still trying to understand why an individual should be forced to violate their own religous beliefs because of an inconvenience to the employer.

    But I say again, if there is no REASONABLE accomodation for a belief, be it a bizarre one or not, the employer is not forced to create for himself an undue hardship to accomodate the employee.

    The question comes in with what is reasonable and what is an undue hardship. But that's why we have courts.

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    This is getting wayyyyyy too deep for a Friday afternoon, so I am calling it an early day and I will clock out on our biometric time clock--I am shooting for the correct 4 digit lottery number to appear on my hand, so I can buy that winning ticket and retire into the blissful sunset.
    Somedays you're the windshield and somedays you're the bug.

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    I will clock out on my PC and go shoe shopping!
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    And as for me, I'm going to take a lesson from the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and found my own religion, to legimitize whatever I want to claim as my religious beliefs. And one of those beliefs will be that all employees must use a biometric scanner.

    Have a good weekend, all.
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    No trees were destroyed in the sending of this message, but a bunch of electrons and phosphors have been a tad inconvenienced.

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