A Catholic nurse has won a tribunal following an unfair dismissal from an NHS hospital after she wore a cross necklace to work.
Mary Onuoha, a theatre practitioner nurse for Britain’s socialised National Health Service, was bullied out of her job by Croydon University Hospital bosses for wearing a cross, with an employment tribunal ruling she was unfairly dismissed.
Onuoha, who was born in Nigeria and is a devout Catholic had worked at the hospital for eighteen years and claimed she faced a “campaign of harassment” by hospital bosses who tried to force her to remove her small gold cross necklace during work hours.
At the tribunal, the panel sided with Ms Onuoha and said she was forced to quit her nursing job in 2020 following her employers creating an “offensive, hostile and intimidating environment” for her to work in.
The hospital leadership initially claimed that the necklace was a health and safety hazard, but this was rejected by the tribunal after it emerged that other staff who held different religious beliefs were allowed to wear similar items.
Lawyers representing Ms Onuoha also pointed out that the hospital’s health and safety claims that the “cross should not be visible” due to risk of “infection” were ludicrous as nurses were expected to wear much larger lanyards at all times, and in theatre, the cross would be covered by a standard-issue surgical covering.
Nurse Mary Onuoha claims she has worn the cross for forty years, and for the entirety of her NHS career, but it only became a problem for her managers from 2015 when they continuously told her to remove it or the matter would face “escalation”, the Daily Mail reports.
The nurse alleges that patient safety was risked in the operation theatre when managers attempted to discipline her during an operation, and she was threatened by the head of her department with security if she wore it in the clinical area inside the hospital.
After Ms Onuoha refused to remove the cross, she was demoted to being a receptionist which made her feel humiliated. The tribunal heard that following this she was forced off of work with stress in June 2020, and resigned before the end of the year.
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Nurse Mary Onuoha branded the “harassment” she faced for wearing her cross as an “attack” on her “faith”.
“My cross has been with me for 40 years. It is part of me, and my faith, and it has never caused anyone any harm. At this hospital there are members of staff who go to a mosque four times a day and no one says anything to them. Hindus wear red bracelets on their wrists and female Muslims wear hijabs in theatre”, she continued.
“Yet my small cross around my neck was deemed so dangerous that I was no longer allowed to do my job. I am a strong woman but I have been treated like a criminal”, she said.
The employment tribunal ruled that there was “no cogent explanation” as to why other members of staff were permitted to wear religious items of jewellery and clothing “but a fine necklace with a small pendant of religious devotional significance” was not allowed.
The tribunal panel also pointed out that “the infection risk posed by a necklace of the sorts the Claimant used to wear, when worn by a responsible clinician such as the Claimant, who complied with handwashing protocol, was very low”.
The tribunal ruled as a result of the “inconsistency of treatment between employees wearing other items of religious and non-religious apparel” that Onuoha faced discrimination and was constructively dismissed.
The hospital has since apologised and said they have updated their staff dress code policies.
Speaking to Breitbart Calvin Robinson, who hosts a religious show on GB News, condemned the treatment of Onuoha saying, “It has become acceptable to discriminate against Christians in this country. Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, but you would expect better from a Christian nation”.
“Hopefully this sends a clear message, that people cannot get away with discriminating against someone for their faith”, he continued.
Calling out the hypocrisy of the situation Mr Robinson said, “Christianity is an easy target. I suspect the NHS Trust in Croydon would’ve had a different reaction to Mrs Onuoha if she was a member of another religion. The double standards we’re seeing at the moment in this country are outrageous and deserve to be stamped out”.
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