“Mark of the Beast” Claim Busts


In Yeager v. FirstEnergy Generation Corp., No. 5:14cv-567 (N.D. Ohio June 27, 2014), a plaintiff asserted a religious discrimination claim for refusal to hire.  In the complaint, he alleged he was not hired because he refused to provide a social security number, or the “Mark of the Beast,” which his religion prohibits.  The employer moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

The Northern District of Ohio dismissed the plaintiff’s claim, noting that his “argument makes no sense.”  In a barely-six-pages opinion, the court first rejected plaintiff’s argument that the issue—whether he was “required” to provide a social security number—was more appropriate for summary judgment rather than a motion to dismiss.  Then, applying Rule 8, the court held that plaintiff had failed to sufficiently plead the first prong of a religious discrimination claim, i.e., that he held a bona fide religious belief in conflict with an employment requirement.  The court stated that the IRS, rather than the employer, requires a social security number as part of a job application.  Furthermore, failure to comply with the IRS requirement would cause both parties to face penalties, and plaintiff had shown no reason why those penalties should be waived.

Who knows whether the plaintiff would have survived a motion to dismiss had he pleaded more facts, or had Beelzebub filed a motion to intervene.  For now, this court appears to hold that, absent more detailed allegations, the employer can succeed on a motion to dismiss by pointing to the IRS as the one causing beef over the “mark of the beast.”


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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