A UK Employment Tribunal has ruled that nurse Mary Onuoha was harassed and discriminated by her National Health Service hospital for wearing a cross, according to the British paper Catholic Herald.
Mary Onuoha worked at the surgery department at Croydon University Hospital in London. She told a court that once a member of the hospital’s board had stopped a patient’s surgery to reprimand her for wearing a cross. At the same time, an anesthesiologist was wearing a necklace and earrings. The hospital had also permitted for other employees to wear jewelry or other religious symbols (turbans or hijabs) or simply keychains.
The tribunal rejected the hospital’s claims that the cross’s ban was due to hygiene requirements. It accepted the opinion of a theologist, who pointed out that wearing a cross was a centuries’ long expression of faith and public expression of faith was an element of the Bible’s teachings.
“I don’t think I could do my job without the cross. I draw my strength from looking at the cross,” the nurse said.
“I am so proud to be a Christian, and I am proud to wear my cross. It’s part of my life, its part of me and I am happy to have it on,” she added.
Similar issues concerning the violation of religious freedom in the form of bans on wearing crosses have been reported in several workplaces in the UK for years. In 2010, the Archbishop of Canterbury had even spoken out about the issue.
Another outspoken situation was the case of Nadia Eweida, a British Airways employee at Heathrow Airport, who had also been forbidden from wearing a cross. The case reached the European Court of Human Rights, which declared that the ban had violated religious freedom.