An American man has brought a wrongful dismissal suit over his former employer's attempt to make him wear the number of the beast - in the guise of a safety record sticker.
Billy E Hyatt alleges that he was fired from the Pliant Corp plastics factory in northern Georgia for refusing to wear a sticker declaring the factory had been accident free for 666 days, Courthouse News reports.
While that number is no doubt a testimony to Pliant's workplace safety practices, it's also, of course, the number of the beast in the Book of Revelation.
There are, El Reg must point out, a number of beasts in the said apocalyptic text, but the one in question is the beast of the sea: the one with ten horns, seven heads and ten crowns on his horns, and "upon his heads the name of blasphemy". Amongst other impositions, under the beast's reign of terror "no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name". That number being, of course, six hundred threescore and six.
Anyway, in the run up to accident-free day 666, Hyatt raised his concerns with his boss, explaining "his 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".
His boss initially told him not to worry, as someone might have an accident, or they could let the count stand still for a couple of days. (He might also have argued that since the seven headed, ten horned beast had not apparently manifested himself in Georgia, Hyatt's fears were somewhat theoretical.)
However, when the day of reckoning came, Hyatt's boss refused to offer him a religious accommodation or change the calendar, and voiced the opinion that Hyatt's beliefs were ridiculous.
Hyatt was given the choice of bearing the number of the beast or taking a three-day suspension. THe worker took the suspension, but was subsequently fired. He now claims he was subjected to harsher punishment than colleagues who had missed work for reasons other than escaping eternal torment in the fiery fireplace of Beelzebub.
He is now demanding his own judgement day, in the form of trial by jury, lost pay and benefits and an injunction.
While we can't comment on the merits of the case, we can't help thinking Hyatt might have jumped the gun. It is now clear that the beast in question is that proposed by the Vatican, in the guise of a worldwide financial regulator, and likely fulfilled by the head of the European Central Bank, Mario "dragons" Draghi. ®