Tribunal rules cross ban is not discrimination
Posted: 08 Apr 2010 @ 00:00
AN EMPLOYMENT tribunal this week ruled that the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust did not discriminate against a Christian nurse, Shirley Chaplin, when it ordered her to remove a crucifix from around her neck at work (News, 2 April).
The tribunal ruled on Tuesday that there had been no discrimination on the grounds of religion against the nurse. It said that the Trust had acted in a reasonable manner, and that the wearing of a cross was not a “mandatory requirement” of Mrs Chaplin’s Christian faith.
The Trust treated people of all religions equally, and ordered Sikh employees to remove bangles and Muslim employees to wear tight-fitting hijabs, the tribunal said.
Mrs Chaplin, who had worn the crucifix on a chain for almost 40 years since her confirmation, had been asked to remove it for health and safety reasons. After refusing, she was moved from the hospital wards to an administrative post.
The Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Mrs Chaplin in her case, said that the decision was further evidence of the courts’ failing to protect the rights of Christians, as Muslim employees were still allowed to wear a hijab for religious reasons, even though it was not mandatory for Muslims.
The director of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said that the decision showed “a worrying lack of common sense”.
Mrs Chaplin said that she was “disappointed but not at all surprised” by the tribunal’s decision. She will now be taking the case to an Employment Appeal Tribunal in a bid to reverse the decision.
Was the NHS Trust right to ban the wearing of crosses?