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Fired for Shunning the Mark of the Beast

ROME, Ga. (CN) - A worker in a plastics plant claims he was fired for refusing to wear a sticker celebrating how many days the plant had been accident-free. He claims he could not wear the number 666 because it's the Mark of the Beast in Revelations.

Billy E. Hyatt sued Berry Plastics Corp. for retaliation and religious discrimination, in Federal Court.

Hyatt worked on the extrusion line, making flexible packing products.

"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.' This belief is based on

Revelation 13:18 of the Holy Bible which say that '666' is the 'mark of the beast,'" according to the complaint.

"Plaintiff['s] sincere religious belief is that to wear the number 666 would be to accept the mark of the beast and to be condemned to hell."

The plastics plant keeps a safety calendar recording the number of consecutive accident-free days, and workers wear a sticker bearing the number during their shift.

"As the number of safely worked days crept into the range of the 600's, plaintiff began discussing with his co-workers and supervisors that he could not wear the number 666 as this number was the sign of the beast and his religious beliefs forbid him from wearing this number," Hyatt says.

He says his boss told him not to worry about it, as maybe someone would have an accident, or maybe they could let the calendar "to stay at 665 for two days, or some other manipulation to prevent the safety calendar from displaying '666.'"

But didn't happen. The plant reached safety day 666 on March 12, 2010, about 2 years and 9 months after Hyatt began working there. He says he asked his boss "for a religious accommodation," but the boss said "that he was not going to change the safety calendar, that Mr. Hyatt's 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 says he accepted the 3-day suspension, rather than wear the Mark of the Beast.

On March 17, he says, he was fired for refusing to work on March 12, day 666.

Hyatt says he was subjected to harsher punishment for missing work because of his refusal to wear the Mark of the Beast, than he or others would have been subjected had they missed work for other reasons.

"Plaintiff had a sincere, bona fide religious belief that wearing the number '666' could condemn him to hell," and he told his bosses, and they refused to accommodate him, Hyatt says. He says the plant could have just let him work without wearing a sticker that day. But it fired him.

He seeks a trial by jury, back pay and front pay and benefits, costs, and an injunction. The complaint does not state whether he wants his job back.

Hyatt is represented by J. Stephen Mixon with Millar & Mixon of Jonesboro.

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