British nurse to appeal crucifix ruling

April 7, 2010 12:00 am


LONDON, Apr 7 – A British nurse vowed Wednesday to appeal against a ruling that she was not the victim of discrimination, having been moved to a desk job after refusing to remove her Christian crucifix.

 An employment tribunal on Tuesday rejected a discrimination claim by Shirley Chaplin after she was moved to a desk job at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital in southwest England.

The 54-year-old argued that taking off a necklace bearing a crucifix would "violate" her faith, but her employer said she was moved due to concerns about patients grabbing necklaces, not specifically due to the Christian cross.

"It\’s such a bad day for Christians in the workplace… It seems that you can insult Christians and it\’s OK but you can\’t actually insult any other kind of religious group," she told BBC radio, vowing to take the ruling to appeal.

The employment tribunal in Exeter heard that Chaplin had worked for the trust since 1989, and that she had worn the crucifix safely for 30 years, before being told to remove it last year.

In August she was threatened with disciplinary action, and in September she received a letter stating that a crucifix was not a "mandatory requirement" of her faith, unlike a Muslim headscarf, the tribunal was told.

"There is a clause in their policy that they will allow religious or cultural exemptions," said Chaplin.

"I felt my faith entitled me to an exemption, but that was obviously not the trust\’s view."

Chaplin\’s case was highlighted by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Easter sermon last weekend when he referred to "wooden-headed bureaucratic silliness" preventing some Christians from wearing religious symbols to work.

The Church of England leader said there was a "strange mixture of contempt and fear" towards Christianity, but urged believers not to overreact to such cases and "think about the larger picture".



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