“Crucifix nurse” loses discrimination claim

Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc | Blend Images | Getty Images

Shirley Chaplin, the 54-year-old British nurse who claimed religious discrimination when her employer told her to remove her crucifix necklace at work, has lost her claim.

Chaplin plans to appeal the ruling and issued a blistering criticism of the National Health Service Trust.  “What the Trust doesn’t realize,” Chaplin says, “is that it sends out a very clear message to Christians working in the Trust…The message is clear:  Christians whose faith motivates their vocation and care of patients do not appear to be welcome at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust.”

While the Trust argued that their request was motivated by health and safety concerns — and backed by an official uniform policy — Chaplin’s proposal to add an easy-off clasp was rejected.  Chaplin also noted that female Muslim employees are allowed to wear the hijab.

Did the Tribunal make the right decision?  Or is Chaplin a victim of religious discrimination?  What role should religion play in the workplace?

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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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5 Responses to “Crucifix nurse” loses discrimination claim

  1. kelli waller

    Nurses go to work without underwear, wear acrylic nails, dangling earrings, necklaces, nose rings, tongue rings, lip rings, eyebrow rings, tattoos, multi-colored hair extensions, beads…. people are breaking the dress code everyday. Is everyone else following the dress code where this nurse works? I worked in a facility where all female staff were required to wear pantyhose. I did not do that. I try to stick as closely to the dress code as I can but the panythose were too uncomfortable on any given day, especially during the summer months. I have never heard of anyone complaining about someone wearing a cross. I don’t think she is being treated fairly.

  2. Peggy

    She was discriminated against. I agree with Kelli. There are a lot of really offensive things some nurses wear. A small cross isn’t one of them. Nor is it as unsafe or germy as a hijab.

  3. Rob

    Its not about the cross, its about it being on a necklace. The reporting of this (outside the BBC) has been siding with the nurse, but she should not be wearing something around her neck that could be caught or pulled. They gave her the option of wearing a lapel pin on her collar or inside a pocket but she refused. She is being treated fairly and should be prioritising her and her patients safety not her religion.

  4. Shawnee

    Thanks for writing a follow up article on this one. This is interesting to me. I brought it up at work and the nurses are divided about half and half on what should be done.

  5. Cindy

    I have been in healthcare for over 25 years, the only time I heard of necklaces not being allowed was when I was scrubbed in for surgeries. At any other time, necklaces were allowed. I think that, once again, Christianity is being discriminated against. It seems to be the only religion people aren’t afraid to deny expression of.