March 2017 Church & State - March 2016

Pa. School Bus Driver Resists Fingerprinting

  AU admin

A former public school bus driver in Pennsylvania is arguing that her employer violated her religious freedom by terminating her after she refused to comply with recently passed state background check requirements that included providing fingerprints.

In the January lawsuit filed in a federal court, Bonnie Kaite of Altoona argued that her Christian beliefs restrict her from being fingerprinted because the Book of Revelation prohibits the “mark of the devil,” which she interprets as including fingerprinting. She argued that she believes fingerprints would prevent her from going to heaven.

“Despite Kaite’s request for an accommodation for her religious beliefs, (her employer) informed her on or around Dec. 30, 2015, that no accommodations were available and that due to her failure to comply with the fingerprinting requirement, she was terminated effective Dec. 31, 2015,” the lawsuit says.

A spokesman for Altoona Student Transportation, Inc., a private firm that contracts with the school district to provide transportation services, declined to comment specifically on the case to the Altoona Mirror but did note that it was merely following state law. In the aftermath of Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse case in 2011, the state tightened background checks for anyone who works with children. 

Kaite is asking the court to reinstate her at her job. She also requested that she be granted an alternative background check that doesn’t involve fingerprinting. The court has referred the matter to a mediation program.

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