The UK employment tribunal ruled last week in favor of a Christian nurse who said she was forced to quit her job at a London hospital after years of harassment over her cross necklace.
Mary Onuoha took legal action against Croydon Health Services NHS Trust after resigning in June 2020 after being targeted for years for wearing a small cross necklace which she said posed “a risk to health and safety “.
After refusing to stop wearing her necklace, the NHS leadership offered her a compromise allowing her to wear it on a longer chain to keep the cross out of sight, which she also refused.
Onuoha, who grew up in Nigeria and worked for Croydon University Hospital for almost 20 years after immigrating to the UK in 1988, said in a statement that the controversy over her necklace “has always been an attack on my faith “.
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“My cross has been with me for 40 years. She’s part of me, part of my faith, and she never hurt anyone. Patients often tell me: ‘I love your cross very much’, they always respond to it in a positive way and it gives me joy and makes me happy. I am proud to wear it because I know that God loves me so much and that he has been through this pain for me, ”she continued.
“From a young age, naturally I always wanted to take care of people – it was in my blood. All I ever wanted was to be a nurse and be true to my faith. I am a woman. strong, but I was treated like a criminal. I love my job, but I’m not ready to compromise my faith for it, and neither are the other Christian NHS staff in this country, ”he said. she also stated.
In its ruling last Wednesday, the court dismissed the hospital’s complaint about the health risk and mentioned that other employees are allowed to wear hijabs and jewelry.
“There is no evidence to show that the risk of infection they posed was lower than that of the cross collar,” the court said. “There is no convincing explanation as to why these items are permitted, but a beautiful necklace with a small pendant with religious significance is not.”
Onuoha was represented by the Christian Legal Center, which welcomed the decision in a statement.
“We are delighted that the Tribunal has ruled in Mary’s favor and delivered justice in this matter,” said Andrea Williams, Executive Director of the Christian Legal Center.
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“From the outset, this case has been about the authoritarian attack by the NHS bureaucracy on the right of a dedicated and industrious nurse to wear a cross – the global, recognized and cherished symbol of the Christian faith. It is very edifying to see the Tribunal recognize this truth.
Onuoha’s financial compensation will be decided at a later hearing.