Fired Christian Employee Files Complaint Against Minnesota Company After Refusing Fingerprint Requirement
Fired Christian employee files lawsuit against Minnesota company after refusing to take fingerprints
- Henry Harrington worked for Ascension Point Recovery Services, a debt collection agency
- In June 2017, Harrington received an email telling him to get his fingerprints taken for a customer
- He twice refused on the basis of a ‘sincere religious belief that he should refrain from fingerprinting’
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents religious discrimination in the workplace
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing the company on behalf of Harrington for back wages, damages and attorney’s fees
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Minnesota man who cited religious reasons as the reason for refusing his employer’s fingerprinting requirement.
Henry Harrington, 37, of Mound, Minnesota, was removed just hours after he declined the scan as part of a background check for one of the debt collection agency’s clients.
The act allegedly violated his “sincere religious belief that he should not have his fingerprints taken,” court documents said.
The EEOC filed a lawsuit against Ascension Point Recovery Services in US District Court in Minneapolis on June 17.
Henry Harrington refused to have his fingerprints taken because of a “sincere religious conviction.” Above, Atletico Madrid’s security system requires fans to scan their fingers to gain entry
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Henry Harrington’s former employer for alleged religious discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that an employer must “take reasonable account” of religious beliefs
“The federal law is clear: Employers cannot refuse to provide religious accommodation unless it creates an unnecessary hardship,” Julianne Bowman, EEOC Chicago District Director, said in a statement.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion.
It requires employers to take reasonable account of an applicant’s or employee’s religious practice unless doing so would create an undue hardship.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 17
“Despite this commitment, APRS fired this employee from his housing request on the same day — not even in seeking readily available solutions,” Bowman said.
“If a company violates federal anti-discrimination laws in this way, the EEOC steps in.”
The lawsuit alleges that the Harrington company, whose previous position with the company is unknown, sent an email requesting fingerprinting in June 2017.
He replied that the requirement conflicted with his beliefs and requested an exemption. It’s unclear what Harrington’s particular aversion to fingerprints is.
At a follow-up meeting, Harington again refused to comply with the demand.
He was fired later that day, according to the lawsuit, which alleges Ascension Point “has not explored alternatives to fingerprinting as an accommodation of Harrington’s religious practice.”
The EEOC is asking the company to reinstate Harrington and pay back wages, as well as damages for lost wages, “emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience,” damages and attorney’s fees.
“An employee shouldn’t have to choose between his faith and his livelihood,” said EEOC attorney Gregory Gochanour.
“The EEOC is committed to upholding the rights of religious workers, and Title VII requires an employer to seek a workable solution when an employee’s sincere religious observance or practice conflicts with a work requirement.”
A similar case was filed in Pennsylvania, according to the StarTribune, where a school bus driver refused to take fingerprints for background checks, believing it would leave the “mark of the devil” on her.
Bonnie Kaite, an evangelical Christian, sued Altoona Student Transportation Inc. in 2017.
Kaite worked for the company for 14 years before being told in 2015 that a new law meant she would have to undergo fingerprinting. She declined, saying the trial could prevent her from entering heaven.
The parties reached a settlement with terms that were not disclosed in 2018.