On Wednesday, an employment tribunal in the United Kingdom sided with longtime a Christian nurse who contended that she was bullied and ultimately pushed out of her job over the cross she wore around her neck as a symbol of her faith.
The tribunal agreed that Mary Onuoha was subject to a “humiliating, hostile and threatening environment” and that the NHS Trust had breached her human rights, CBN News reports.
Six years ago, Onuoha was told that she could not visibly wear the cross as it posed a potential safety risk.
However, there were other employees who were able to wear other religious garb such as jewelry, saris, turbans, and hijabs unmolested.
She ultimately resigned in 2020.
“This has always been an attack on my faith,” she said previously. “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. All I have ever wanted is to be a nurse and to be true to my faith.”
“I am a strong woman, but I have been treated like a criminal,” she continued. “I love my job, but I am not prepared to compromise my faith for it, and neither should other Christian NHS staff in this country.”
The tribunal noted that Onuoha was treated unfairly as compared to other religious employees.
“Applying common sense, it is clear to us 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 judge and two members stated.
They determined that the NHS Trust treated Onuoha in a “offensive and intimidating” manner.
“It failed to properly grapple with the complexity of the issues,” the panel ruled. “No real thought seems to have been given to whether it was really appropriate to discipline the Claimant for doing something that in fact, many others in the workforce (including more senior colleagues who worked just as closely with patients) were doing unchallenged. Equally, no real thought was given to the Claimant’s point that others were wearing religious apparel in clinical areas and that she should be treated equally to them.”
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