Nurse sacked for wearing cross necklace wins legal case in England uk

A nurse at a hospital in Surrey, England has won an employment discrimination case on the grounds that she was dismissed from her job for wearing a necklace with a small gold cross on it.

Mary Onuoha, a Catholic nurse employed by Croydon University Hospital, was first asked to remove her necklace in 2014. The hospital claimed they issued the request based on the National Health Service’s policy that the wearing of necklaces represent a health and safety risk. 

After several attempts to get her to stop wearing the symbol of her faith, the hospital demoted her and reassigned her to work as a receptionist.  She resigned in 2020, after working as a nurse there for 18 years. Onuoha then filed charges saying she had been unfairly dismissed, and that the hospital had violated her free expression of her religion under Article 9 of the European convention on human rights.

The employment tribunal that issued the ruling found that employees commonly wore jewelry at the hospital and that it was “widely tolerated” by the hospital’s management. Other religious jewelry and accessories such as headscarves and turbans was frequently worn by hospital staff, the tribunal found.

In addition, Onuoha was required to wear around her neck several lanyards that held identity badges and passes.

“There was no proper explanation as to why those items were permitted but a cross-necklace was not,” the ruling said.

The Tribunal rejected the Trust’s argument that its objection to the “necklace” had nothing to do with Mrs Onuoha’s Christian beliefs. It accepted the expert evidence of theologian Dr Martin Parsons, and on that basis, specifically found that “the Cross is a symbol of Christianity” and wearing a cross has many centuries of tradition behind it.


The judgment notes that “wearing of the cross is not and should not be simply as a fashion accessory”and “stopping Christians from displaying the cross has been a feature of wider persecution campaigns” in some parts of the world. The Tribunal has also acknowledged that “there is biblical teaching imploring Christians to be open about their faith and not to hide it”.


Responding to the outcome, Mrs Onuoha was delighted and relieved that she had finally received justice .

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