Safety and OSHA News

Injury free for 665 days, and tomorrow is … uh oh

A worker says he was fired for refusing to wear a sticker with the number “666” on it, designating the number of injury-free days at the plant. He wouldn’t wear the number because it’s a mark of the devil. Now he’s suing for religious discrimination. 

Billy Hyatt worked at Berry Plastics in Rome, GA.

Every day, workers wore stickers with the number of days since the last employee injury.

As the facility reached day 600 — quite a feat — Hyatt started to get worried. He told his co-workers and supervisors Revelation 13:18 says “666” is “the mark of the beast,” and his religious beliefs forbade him from wearing the number.

Hyatt says his boss told him not to worry because there was a chance someone would be injured before day 666 (we hope the boss didn’t actually say that). His boss also allegedly offered to keep the safety calendar at 665 for two days, and then skip to 667.

But no one got injured, and day 666 came along. The boss told Hyatt to put the 666 sticker on. Hyatt says he asked for a religious accommodation, but his boss refused and said if he didn’t put on the sticker, he’d get a three-day suspension.

Hyatt chose the suspension. When he returned to work, he was fired.

Now his lawsuit against the company says he was subjected to harsher punishment for missing work because of his religious belief about the number 666.

Hyatt seeks back and front pay, benefits, and costs. The lawsuit doesn’t say if he wants his job back.

OSHA has made it clear lately that it isn’t in favor of safety incentive programs that reward zero injuries because they can lead to unreported injuries so employees get the promised reward. So if that isn’t enough reason to scrap such safety programs, maybe this worker’s objection is.

Or, at least scrap the program on day 665.

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Comments

  1. It has been a while, but aren’t we suppose to have an option on where to display the “mark of the beast” to be worn on the back of your right hand or forehead… not a sticker your boss gave you? Maybe Hollywood has affected my recollection of bible study!

  2. With just the facts and allegations from the employee’s point of view it appears he was wrongfully suspended and wrongfully termintated. This has nothing to do with counting the days without an accident and the article was wrong to try and tie it to OSHA’s recent change of stance on incentive programs.

    So we are now supposed to believe that counting the number of days worked without an injury is some sort of incentive that is driving non-reporting of injuries?

    I didn’t see any prize offered for working the 666th day without an injury, just a hard hat sticker, which is offered every day to everyone. If that is an incentive, then so is maintaining an OSHA log and posting it every February.

  3. A lesson in scripture would have saved this worker a lot of trouble and been one less article to print. 666 is NOT the number of the devil. 6 is the number of mankind. 3 is a number referring to God’s divinity. Therefore, 6 three times is man exalting himself to the place of God. Hence, 666 is the antichrist’s number in Revelation because he is a man exalting himself to the place of God.

    God’s number is 7 and satan has no number because ultimately, he’s an imposter and a loser.

    A little education can go a long way, but many things are assumed because of movies and books.

  4. Three day suspension for refusing to wear a sticker? Fired when returned?? Sounds kinda childish to me! Did the employee handbook designate that an employee was required to wear advertisement? Our company posted the days on the bullitin board by the time clock.
    I would have sued their butts also.

  5. Sounds like the boss was looking for an excuse to fire the man and couldn’t come up with any better reason. It’s not his place to provide religious education to his employees, he should have just accomodated this request. I don’t see how this would have been a hardship for the company. There’s likely more to it than this one instance of refusal to wear a sticker.

  6. Jason B. has a point but this is not about Biblical accuracy. It is about what Billy Hyatt has a constitutional right to believe. If Billy expressed his concerns 60 days prior to the dreaded day (666) and was not accommodated, shame on Berry Plastics for not offering a cost free, bridge building accommodation that no one but Billy and his supervisor would have known about. I see this going to an out of court settlement becuase a civil rights attorney is going to get a free lunch on this one. I wonder if anyone complained on injury free day #13 about wearing a #13 sticker on their hardhat. Besides; isn’t it OHSA’s policy not to paint or adorn hardhats with stickers becuase they can hide cracks or other defects that render the PPE unservicable? On an other note, I wonder if the supervisor was knowingly placing Billy at risk of injury by allowing him to become preoccupied with the sticker issue as this career changing deadline approched. This one is spupid! I hope that there are no other other factors involved like Billy’s performamce. Maybe the supoevisor was on a power trip (Authority vs. Leadership.) Either way a poor and costly decision was made that will impact both Billy and Berry Plastics; not to mention the moral of Berry”s work force.

  7. I would have refused to wear the sticker also.

  8. I do not understand this at all. Berry Plastics would fire me because I won’t wear a sticker? First off, last time I checked, Georgia was considered a part of the bible belt. I’m surprised there was only one person that objected to wearing the sticker. Over here towards the buckle of the belt and home of a few mega-churches, there would be a huge uprising if I asked anyone to wear a sticker with 666 on it. (I’ve seen people give cashiers extra money so that they wouldn’t hand over $6.66.) I’m not saying that it makes sense. I am saying that I understand the religious conviction, whether I agree with it or not. Secondly, does the sticker magically prevent accidents? Why couldn’t one worker not wear it? Would the ceiling collapse? Could you have given him a different sticker that says “Think Safety” or something that would be just as effective? Perhaps sticker avoidance makes him a bad team player. I hate to think that refusal to wear a sticker is the reason to fire anyone.

  9. If this guy was allowed to NOT wear a sticker, then wouldn’t ALL the other employees be receiving unfair treatment by having to wear them due to their own religious beliefs?

    That’s the problem with EVERY special circumstance relating to religion – you don’t just have the one guy exception situation. You have a situation where EVERYONE at the company falls into one of two categories: in this case, there were those whose religious beliefs forbade the wearing of the 666 sticker, and those whose religious beliefs didn’t forbid it.

    No matter which way you go, you’ll favor one set of beliefs. So, why favor the ONE guy when you can either do nothing, and not let religion dictate your business practices, or favor the MAJORITY of your workers if you simply must pick a side?

    In other words, if my religious beliefs allow it, I HAVE to wear a sticker whether or not I like it? How is that not the same type of “religious discrimination” as the guy crying because he refused to follow company procedure because he believed it was against his religion?

  10. Carla Heath says:

    Why not give the guy a sticker that said 365+1?

  11. Tom Fry: Just a side note: You are allowed to wear stickers and so on because the hard hat can be inspected from the inside. This allows for identification purposes. Name, CPR Certified, Safety Committee, etc. Those can come in handy on a big job site with multiple companies spread out over the entire project.

  12. To Berry Plastics: A great line from True Grit sums it up; “. . . My lawyer is going to make money. Your lawyer is going to make money. I will make money and you will pay the bill. . . .”

  13. Wouldn’t this of been a simplier solution – turn the 666 upside down and wear 999 for the day. It would still be the sticker he was given just modified to fit his beliefs.

  14. Seriously, what is so critical to this supervisor that he believed an employee should be fired for not wearing a sticker for 1 day out of 665+1? There has to be more to it. Or the supervisor probably is in the wrong career because if I caused my company a lawsuit because we had a 665+1 day no accident record going, so I fired a guy because he wouldn’t wear a sticker, they would start questioning my competency as a boss. And they should.

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