2007 Press Releases

4.17.2007: ACLU calls on St. John school district to accommodate Christian employee's religious beliefs when he clocks in for work

The ACLU of Louisiana sent a letter[1] today to St. John schools superintendent Michael Coburn in support of an employee's request for an exception to fingerprint scanning based on sincerely held religious beliefs.  Herman Clayton, a Baptist minister and public school employee, objects to the biometrics system due to his belief in an "end time" doctrine.

"The school district can easily accommodate Rev. Clayton's request by allowing him to sign in and out manually on a piece of paper, as happened for several months," said Joe Cook, Executive Director, ACLU of Louisiana.  "An employer that fails to accommodate an employee's bona fide religious beliefs may suffer vulnerability to a lawsuit." 

The school system changed its timekeeping system some months ago to a biometrics based fingerprint scanner.  This means that all school district employees are required to sign in and out of work by having their fingers scanned, and also by entering portions of their social security numbers. Rev. Clayton advised his supervisor of his objection to the system based upon his religious beliefs.  After using an allowed exception for a few months, he was suspended in early February and not allowed to return to work.

Rev. Clayton filed a grievance through his union representative, which the superintendent denied.  A hearing on the matter is scheduled with the full school board at a meeting set for Thursday evening in Laplace.  At that time, the board could carve out an exception to the biometrics system for persons with sincerely held religious beliefs and limit their liability.  That would solve the problem and allow affected employees to return to work.

See letter to Superintendent Coburn at http://www.laaclu.org/PDF_documents/StJohn_Ltr_041707.pdf