Onuoha was repeatedly asked at the hospital to remove the cross she wears, as the necklace allegedly “harboured bacteria”.
The nurse pointed out that, while she loves her job, she is not prepared to compromise her faith for it.
Mary Onuoha, a 61-year old nurse who in 2020 was “forced out” from Croydon University Hospital in south London and who recently won a constructive dismissal lawsuit, has suggested that the woes that befell her were related to her Christian faith, the Mail on Sunday reports.
According to the newspaper, Onuoha revealed that she was repeatedly asked at the hospital, where she worked as a theatre practitioner, to remove the cross she wears, as the necklace allegedly “harboured bacteria”.
“This has always been an attack on my faith,” she complained. “My cross has been with me for more than 40 years. It is part of me, and my faith, and it has never caused anyone any harm.”
She pointed out that “Hindus wear red bracelets on their wrists and female Muslims wear hijabs in theatre”, and that some hospital staff “go to a mosque four times a day and no one says anything to them.”
“I am a strong woman, but I have been treated like a criminal,” Mary remarked. “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.”
As Onuoha kept refusing to remove her cross, she was reassigned to clerical duties and notified that, if she were to enter the theatre area wearing a cross, security would be called.
As the situation she ended up with caused her “a lot of stress”, Ohuoha was signed off from work by her doctor in June 2020 and resigned two months later.
However, last October she sued Croydon Health Services NHS Trust for “harassment, victimisation, direct and indirect discrimination, and constructive and unfair dismissal”, as the newspaper put it, and last week Judge Daniel Dyal ruled that Ohuoha was constructively dismissed in an unfair and discriminatory manner.
The judge reportedly stated that the dress-code policy at the hospital was applied ‘in an arbitrary way’ and with ‘no cogent explanation’ as to why some items, like rings and hijabs, were permitted while a cross necklace was not.
“The courts have finally admitted that the cross is a Christian symbol in a crucial ruling that protects a Christian’s right to express their faith in the workplace,” said Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre who provided support to Ohuoha in the legal case. “The tribunal has found that the cross is not just a piece of jewellery or a fashion accessory, but ruled that it is a symbol of Christianity and it is of central importance to the faith of many Christians.”
The amount of financial compensation Mary is going to receive as per the ruling is expected to be determined during a future hearing, the newspaper adds.