Mary Onuoha, a London-based Nigerian nurse, spent eighteen years working at the Croydon University Hospital, all the while upholding her faith and belief in God.
As a devout Christian, she always wore a small crucifix around her neck, which soon became a cause for concern in the hospital. Her head of department first issued her a warning concerning her jewelry, saying he would alert security if she wore it within the clinical area.
Noting that other staff wore their fashionable jewelry and religious items freely without being questioned, she overlooked the warning. Sometime in 2018, the hospital heads again asked her to do away with the pendant as it was a breach of the hospital’s dress code.
Again, she refused, leading to more bullying within the facility. The hospital heads insisted her pendant posed a health and safety risk to the patient and even chased her out of the theatre during surgeries on occasions, she claims.
Eventually, the board opened an investigation against Onuoha, suspending her afterward. However, they took her in again shortly after, demoting her to the post of a receptionist.
At that point, the devoted Christian, who passionately desired to pursue nursing since her brother died of measles in Nigeria, had no option but to quit.
She turned in her resignation in August 2020 and took the trust to tribunal, alleging harassment, discrimination, victimization, and unfair dismissal.
Onuoha believes her crucifix did not breach any of the hospital’s policies. The rules guiding dress code states that religious/cultural requirements will be treated sensitively, “provided it conforms with health regulation and infection prevention.”
Knowing her crucifix was not a health hazard, especially when other staff wore their jewelry freely, Onuoha believes the trust’s actions as an attack on her religion. She shared:
“This has always been an attack on my faith. My cross has been with me for 40 years. It is part of me, and my faith. And it has never caused anyone any harm.”
The Christian Legal Center has since shown the nurse their support, serving as her legal representative. They claim her human rights have been breached by the Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, who ruthlessly hampered her freedom to manifest her faith.
The trust has declined to comment on the ongoing legal proceedings. Meanwhile, the issue of deeming some outfits inappropriate for certain places is a highly debated topic, as many have fallen victim to such discrimination.
In July, a TikTok user, Tia Wood, recounted how she was chased out of a garage inspection station because her “shirt was too inappropriate.”
Showing off her “inappropriate” outfit, comprising a short crop top and denim shorts to netizens, Wood lamented her ordeal, demanding to know why she was kicked out.
The internet turned on the garage inspection company immediately, insisting the staff member who chased Wood out of the station oozed “jealousy vibes.”
However, others faulted the TikToker’s dressing, especially her top, which they deemed too revealing. The divided opinion goes to prove that the appropriateness of certain outfits is dependent on an individual’s values and preferences.