Mary Onuoha

Christian nurse Mary Onuoha was forced out of her job as an NHS theatre practitioner at Croydon University Hospital because she wouldn’t remove the cross she was wearing.

 

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Christian nurse Mary Onuoha is challenging her former hospital after being forced out of her job because she refused to remove her small, gold cross necklace, which she had word for 40 years as a symbol of her deep Christian faith.

Mary was told that the necklace was a health and safety risk and “must not be visible”, however no good reason has been shown as to why Mary’s cross is a risk, and people of other faiths and none are allowed to wear jewellery, lanyards, saris, turbans and hijabs without incident.

In January 2022, the Employment Tribunal released a landmark judgment ruling that the NHS Trust harassed and directly discriminated against Mary. It further stated that the trust had breached her human rights and created a “humiliating, hostile and threatening environment” for her. The outcome of the case develops a wider legal principle that employers cannot discriminate against employees for reasonable manifestations of faith in the workplace.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, commented on the victory: “We are delighted that the Tribunal has ruled in Mary’s favour and delivered justice in this case. From the beginning this case has been about the high-handed attack from the NHS bureaucracy on the right of a devoted and industrious nurse to wear a cross – the worldwide, recognised and cherished symbol of the Christian faith. It is very uplifting to see the Tribunal acknowledge this truth.

“Any employer will now have to think very carefully before restricting wearing of crosses in the workplace. You can only do that on specific and cogent health and safety grounds. It is not enough to apply general labels such as ‘infection risk’ or ‘health and safety’.

“Mary’s whole life has been dedicated to caring for others and her love for Jesus. It has been a privilege to stand with her in this long fight for justice, and we are very pleased with the outcome.”

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