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A Christian nurse who said she faced discrimination for wearing a cross at work has won her case for unfair dismissal.
Nursing Standard. 37, 2, 7-7. doi: 10.7748/ns.37.2.7.s5
Published: 02 February 2022
Mary Onuoha, pictured, a theatre practitioner at Croydon University Hospital in London, said she was bullied for refusing to remove her necklace in 2018.
An employment tribunal ruled Croydon Health Services NHS Trust discriminated against and harassed Ms Onuoha. The trust told her the necklace was a safety risk.
Ms Onuoha, supported by Christian Legal Centre, said she had worked at the hospital for 13 years before the issue arose.
The tribunal found the trust’s uniform policy arbitrary, with many staff allowed to wear necklaces and other symbols.
It heard from 2015, several managers asked Ms Onuoha to remove or conceal her cross because it could cause injury or infection.
Ms Onuoha said she was suspended from clinical duties when she refused to remove the item, and then demoted to receptionist tasks. In June 2020, she went off work with stress and said she felt she had to resign.
The tribunal found she was constructively and unfairly dismissed.
Afterwards, Christian Legal Centre’s Andrea Williams said the trust’s interpretation of uniform guidance had led to a campaign of harassment against a highly professional nurse.
Apologising, the trust said it had reviewed its dress code.
‘Our uniform policy has been updated to ensure it is sensitive to all religious and cultural needs, while protecting safety of patients and staff,’ a spokesperson said.
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