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‘I was bullied for my faith’: nurse claims trust forced her out of job for wearing cross

Christian nurse takes hospital trust to tribunal in religious discrimination claim
Cross necklace rests on a Bible – nurse takes ex-employer to tribunal, claiming it did not allow her to show this Christian symbol

Christian nurse claims hospital bosses insisted necklace posed safety risk yet no patients or colleagues had ever complained about it to her

Picture: iStock

A Christian nurse claims she was bullied into removing or covering up a cross worn around her neck while on duty.

Mary Onuoha, a theatre practitioner at Croydon University Hospital in London, was due to tell an employment tribunal on 5 October that she felt like she was treated like a criminal for wearing a small gold cross.

Ms Onuoah, who worked at the hospital for 19 years, said she had worn the cross for most of that time without any complaints from colleagues or patients.

‘Line managers warned nurse issue of her necklace would be escalated’

However, the Christian Legal

Christian nurse claims hospital bosses insisted necklace posed safety risk yet no patients or colleagues had ever complained about it to her

Cross necklace rests on a Bible – nurse takes ex-employer to tribunal, claiming it did not allow her to show this Christian symbol
Picture: iStock

A Christian nurse claims she was bullied into removing or covering up a cross worn around her neck while on duty.

Mary Onuoha, a theatre practitioner at Croydon University Hospital in London, was due to tell an employment tribunal on 5 October that she felt like she was treated like a criminal for wearing a small gold cross.

Ms Onuoah, who worked at the hospital for 19 years, said she had worn the cross for most of that time without any complaints from colleagues or patients.

‘Line managers warned nurse issue of her necklace would be escalated’

However, the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the nurse’s discrimination claim, alleges that from 2015, several line managers asked Ms Onuoha to remove or conceal her cross or face ‘escalation’ because the item was a health and safety risk and must not be visible.

After refusing to remove the cross, Ms Onuoha says she was investigated, suspended from clinical duties and demoted to working as a receptionist. In June 2020, she went off work with stress and said she felt she had no alternative but to resign.

Right to freedom of religious expression

Lawyers for Ms Onuoha argue the trust breached her freedom to manifest her faith under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Equality Act. They argue her employer was in breach of its own dress code, which states they say claims to welcomes diversity, and that other nurses were able to wear religious symbols and clothing.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, Ms Onuoha said: ‘I love my job, but I am not prepared to compromise my faith for it, and neither should other Christian NHS staff.’

Christian Legal Centre chief executive Andrea Williams said: ‘It is upsetting that an experienced nurse, during a pandemic, has been forced to choose between her faith and the profession she loves.’

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust declined to comment. The hearing continues.


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