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Crucifix row nurse loses tribunal


A Christian nurse who refused to remove a crucifix at work has lost her discrimination claim against Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust.

Shirley Chaplin, 54, claimed the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust “violated her faith” after asking her to remove her crucifix necklace at work. When she refused she was moved to an administrative position.

After the hearing she said the result was “a very bad day for Christianity.”

The trust said health and safety was the issue in the case, not specifically the crucifix. They said concerns had been raised about patients grabbing necklaces.

The employment tribunal panel chairman John Hollow found against Mrs Chaplin, who had worn the emblem throughout her 30 years as a nurse.

Mr Hollow ruled the trust had acted in a “reasonable” manner in trying to reach a compromise.

In a 71-point statement, Mrs Chaplin, who wore the crucifix to the hearing in her home city of Exeter, said she was “personally convicted” to wear the emblem, given to her as a confirmation gift in 1971.

Asked about her future she said: “I don’t know. I wait to find out - but I will be going to work tomorrow.”

She vowed not to remove the crucifix, explaining: “I wouldn’t have gone this far if I was prepared to take it off.”

Following the ruling, a hospital spokesman said: “The tribunal decision has confirmed the trust has acted in an appropriate and sensitive manner in seeking to deal with the issues raised by Mrs Chaplin.

“At all times the trust has given the safety of staff and patients paramount importance. We are pleased that the panel agreed with this view and confirmed the actions we have taken to attempt to resolve this issue have been fair and reasonable and recognises the strenuous efforts that have been made to find a solution.”


Readers' comments (47)

  • how many other religious items have the trust asked others to remove due to health and safety

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  • I myself wear a Crucifix on a chain around my neck. I have considered wearing a crucifix ring or pinning my crucifix to an item of my clothing. However, I have never found an alternative to the chain, (perhaps it's closer to my heart, I don't know) I just do not feel whole unless the crucifix is worn in it's usual place. I too feel the personal conviction to wear it, as do many, many christians. This has been the case for as long as one can remember. Nurse Chaplin, herself has worn hers for the past 30 years. WHY NOW is she told not to wear it for supposed 'Health and Safety' reasons???? Once again Political Correctness gone mad in a predominantly Christian country, which is traditionally Christian. WHAT IS THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND??? ... for goodness sake. Whilst this may seem to some a stubborness on behalf of Christians, I do not believe it is. It seems Nurse Chaplin is merely standing up for her right to continue wearing a symbol of her religion as she has done for the past 30 years. Provisions are made for other religions to symbolise their beliefs by wearing head scarves etc, WHICH are ALSO NON COMPULSORY. All that this PC madness creates is bigger racial, religious and cultural divides and tensions. Good luck to Nurse Chaplin, she has my support and I hope she gets the support of millions of other 'repressed' and 'down beaten' Christians or other religious belivers being 'victimised' and discriminated against. It causes me (and no doubt many, many others) deep OFFENCE that I cannot symbolise my religion in any correct and proper way I chose, I take great offence that my religious beliefs are deemed so often to 'offend' followeres of other religions. Where is PC etc when 'I' am offended, for example when it is said we can't have Christmas trees and lights etc. Time to stand up and be counted I think!!! The next thing will see us being 'thrown to the lions' again !!!

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  • I find this ruling absolutely amazing...especially as the trust states that it is concerned about 'patients grabbing necklaces'...surely a necklace is harder get hold of and safer IF it were to be grabbed than the head scarves that nurses of other faiths are rightly able to wear... at least a necklace would break! I agree this is political correctness gone mad

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  • I also believe that Health & Safety has gone overboard. I think there are ways to come to an agreement of common sense so that people of faith are able to express their faith. And a correction for Alison - head scarves are compulsory for a Muslim female, some may choose not to wear it but it is compulsory.

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  • I wholeheartedly agree with the ruling. In a world where we asked to be treated equally, then the rules should be applied equally. If nobody is allowed to wear necklaces then it should not make a difference on the grounds of the appendage to the necklace.

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  • I have a very strong conviction to my faith, but nowhere to my knowledge in the bible does it state that a crucifix has to be worn on a chain. Lets no blow this out of proportion. H&S always air on the side of caution to protect us and our service users. As for other religions I am sure that there is some legal team somewhere looking to see whether or not nurse/doctors should remove some of their clothing, ie head scarfs. Sadly for Mrs Chaplin it appears that no one advised her of the recent british airways case where it was held that british airways were not wrong to ask an air stewardess to remove her crucifix which was on a chain, his case would have set precedence on any furture hearings. Any other health care professionals who find themself in this situation it is a good case to read.....

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  • For my 43yrs in the nursing profession I wore a crucifix and chain and I am appalled at the feeble excuses given by the ruling judge in Mrs Chapman's case. This is nothing short of aquiesing to the overall attempt to rid the UK of Christianity. I can assure those who pretend to be 'fair' in this matter are not taken on board with regard to their false compassion. No patient ever attempted to remove my crucifix which was never dangling outside my uniform. What a sad state this country is in!

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  • Correction to earlier ....

    I believe the question of Hijab etc is quite complex, Whilst it may be compulsory in some Muslim Countries it is not entirely compulsory to the religion as a whole (Which is the point in this instance). Muslims differ in their views on correct dress for women and apparently the Qran actually leads one to believe there is the right to 'CHOOSE' all that is compulsory is MODEST dress. The veiling of women is for their own protection against molestation, and is a matter of choice. However this is a vey complex issue and is NOT the issue in question hear, Just as a Muslim woman can CHOOSE to veil herself, I want the equal right to CHOOSE to wear my Crucifix.... I see my crucifix as a symbol of 'PROTECTION' just as a muslim woman may see a veil. This is exactly what I meant by causing racial/ religious divides!!!! lets have the same rules for all at least ...PLEASE.

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  • So a lanyard around a nurses neck is not deemed a health hazard but a hidden cross and chain is...hmmmm

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  • Steve Williams

    Hummmm... go figga religious and racist fascists... Was Florence Nightingale our ultimate Diva? Then go back and check your history. Aunty Flo never said anything about uniform colours or instant religious recognition...

    In fact she required all her nurses to wear head scarves (just like the Muslim head scarves) in order to prevent nits and lice falling into open wounds... that's considered Cross-Infection (pun intended) isn't it?

    Alas, Auntie Flo was also a religious bigot - you have to read this shit to believe it - that's why female Ward Managers are called "Sisters" and they had to "make-up" the name "Charge Nurse" for male nurses in the same position.

    If you don't believe me (and I certainly wouldn't) then go to this link and see what a religious fruit-cake she was.

    We should be glad, and give thanks, that Muslim nurses are amongst us and teaching us about basic cross-infection control through hair control... given that the fact that Christians are (and have been for a long time) a minority of the religious population of the UK.

    Bare Below Elbow? Shame on you NT for promoting such racist propaganda... Disposable shirt cuffs or aprons? You guys have lowered yourselves to a point where you are competing with The Mail, The Daily Mirror and The Sun in order to get notoriety.

    NT - Online just slipped below my credibility radar... I only hope that other Registered Nurses around the world will also note this and immediately cancel their overtly expensive subscriptions that they paid to log on to this site!


    Geddit? Of course not... you are an angel! :)


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