A Christian nurse is suing a London NHS belief for unfair dismissal over claims she was pressured out of her job for sporting a cross necklace.
Mary Onuoha, a theatre practitioner for 18 years, will inform an employment tribunal right now that she had worn her cross necklace at Croydon College Hospital for a few years with out incident till 2015, when she says she was warned of “escalation” by bosses except she eliminated or hid it whereas on responsibility.
The religious Christian, who wears the necklace as an emblem of her religion, says this was adopted by a marketing campaign of harassment during which she was “handled like a felony”, regardless of different non secular employees members being allowed to put on jewelry, saris, turbans and hijabs.
She says the state of affairs escalated in August 2018 when bosses at Croydon Well being Providers NHS Belief ordered her to take away the cross on the grounds that it breached the hospital gown code and was due to this fact a well being danger to her and the sufferers.
The 61-year-old says the hospital’s place contradicted the a number of lanyards she says she was required to put on round her neck always, in addition to the hospital’s personal gown code, which states that non secular necessities “can be handled sensitively”.
Bosses are reported to have mentioned that whereas in medical areas, she may put on the necklace so long as it was underneath her scrubs and “out of sight”, and that safety could must be known as in if she didn’t comply.
After refusing to take away or disguise her necklace, Mrs Onuoha says she was subsequently given non-clerical administrative roles.
In April 2019 she acquired a ultimate written warning and in June 2020 she got here off work as a result of stress, resigning two months later.
On the tribunal in Croydon, Mrs Onuoha’s legal professionals will argue that the gown code was utilized inconsistently and that the hospital’s calls for weren’t pushed by considerations round security and hygiene however the visibility of the cross.
Commenting on her case, Mrs Onuoha mentioned she was “astonished” by the coverage.
“This has all the time been an assault on my religion. My cross has been with me for 40 years. It’s a part of me, and my religion, and it has by no means triggered anybody any hurt,” she mentioned.
“Sufferers usually say to me: ‘I actually like your cross’, they all the time reply to it in a constructive manner and that provides me pleasure and makes me really feel glad. I’m proud to put on it as I do know God loves me a lot and went by means of this ache for me.
“At this hospital there are members of employees who go to a mosque 4 occasions a day and nobody says something to them. Hindus put on crimson bracelets on their wrists and feminine Muslims put on hijabs in theatre. But my small cross round my neck was deemed so harmful that I used to be not allowed to do my job.”
She added, “All I’ve ever needed is to be a nurse and to be true to my religion. I’m a powerful girl, however I’ve been handled like a felony. I really like my job, however I’m not ready to compromise my religion for it, and neither ought to different Christian NHS employees on this nation.”
Andrea Williams, CLC chief government, mentioned Ms Onuoha had been handled appallingly.
“From the start this case has been about one or two members of employees being offended by the cross – the worldwide, recognised and cherished image of the Christian religion,” she mentioned.
“It’s upsetting that an skilled nurse, throughout a pandemic, has been pressured to decide on between her religion and the career she loves.
“Why do some NHS employers really feel that the cross is much less worthy of safety or show than different non secular apparel?
“How Mary was handled over a sustained interval was appalling and can’t go unchallenged.
“Mary’s complete life has been devoted to caring for others and her love for Jesus. We’re decided to battle for justice.”
A spokesperson for Croydon Well being Providers NHS Belief mentioned, “We can’t touch upon ongoing authorized proceedings.”