A Georgia factory worker is claiming he was fired for refusing to wear a sticker celebrating how many days the plant had been accident-free.
Billy E. Hyatt is now suing his former employer for religious discrimination: He could not wear the number 666 because it's the Mark of the Beast in Revelations.
Hyatt worked on the extrusion line, making flexible packing products for Pliant Corp, which is now called Berry Plastics Corp.
"Plaintiff's sincere religious belief as a Christian is that he should not wear any depiction of the number '666' as this number is a representation of Satan and/or that this number is the 'sign of the beast,'" reads the complaint, filed in federal court. "This belief is based on Revelation 13:18 of the Holy Bible which says that '666' is the mark of the beast."
Continues the complaint: "Plaintiff['s] sincere religious belief is that to wear the number 666 would be to accept the Mark of the Beast and be condemned to hell."
The northern Georgia plant keeps a safety calendar recording the number of consecutive accident-free days, and workers then write the number on a sticker and wear it during their shift.
As the number of days crept into the 660 range, Hyatt—who had worked at the plant for more than two and a half years—discussed the issue with both his co-workers and his boss, Joe Richard. Richard told him not to worry—that perhaps there would be an accident, or that maybe they could let the calendar "stay at 665 for two days, or some other manipulation to prevent the safety calendar from displaying '666.'"
But the plant reached 666 accident-free days in a row on March 12, 2010. Hyatt asked his boss for "religious accommodation," but the boss said "that he was not going to change the safety calendar, that Mr. Hyatt's religious beliefs were ridiculous, and that Mr. Hyatt could go to work with a '666' on his safety sticker or face a three (3) day suspension."
Hyatt said he accepted the three-day suspension, but when he returned to work on March 17 he was fired.
He filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and his attorney, Stephen Mixon, told the Associated Press that the agency granted him the right to sue the company in August.
The company did not return calls and emails seeking comment, and has not responded yet in court.