Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's Called a Uniform for a Reason!

"After facing consequences for refusing to cover or remove their crosses at work, two Christian women are taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights. A group of ministers is set to back employer regulations banning religious regalia in the workplace, arguing that wearing crosses aren't a "requirement" of the Christian faith"
Here's the link for the story:

And another :

As a paramedic, I wore a standard medium service blue shirt with navy blue pants. On that shirt were patches that identified me as a licensed EMS provider by the Department of Health in the state I worked in, and a small curved 'rocker' patch which identified me as an instructor. I wore rank insignia on my collar and epaulets. On occasion, when in full class "A" uniform I also wore a formal dress jacket and a hat. I was permitted to wear tiny gold or silver ball earrings as a female. I could have worn a simple chain necklace, but after the first time a hallucinating patient grabbed the chain and tried to choke me with it, I never wore a necklace while on duty again. HR changed later the policy and prohibited necklaces altogether. No one complained because we knew the policy was in our best interest, and we figured that none of our patients actually cared if the medic who showed up at 3 a.m. was a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, as long as that person was reasonably competent.

Later, as a minister who wore clericals,which are technically a uniform, I eschewed wearing a cross necklace as a matter of personal preference. The diocesan Bishop wore a pectoral cross, but the rank and file clergy seldom wore anything. Most of us figured there were enough crosses and other symbols emblazoned on the ritual vestments we wore during worship services, so we didn't need anything else dangling from around our necks. After all, the purpose of wearing clericals were to identify us as ordained ministers, not for individual expression: we were supposed to all be equal in the eyes of God.

The thinking behind uniforms is pretty much universally the same. If you are a flight attendant, then you wear the uniform issued by the airline so you can be recognized by passengers. As a nurse you may have a bit more choice in the pattern and design of your uniform, although some hospitals now require employees to wear a standard color by position. At any rate, you are still wearing a uniform and there is a dress code prescribed by the facility where you work, and everyone is required to comply.

This is why I am stymied by the claims being made by the two ladies mentioned in the Huffington Post story that their freedom of expression and religious rights are being violated. If I were working in such a uniformed service position I would understand why I couldn't wear a pentagram or goddess symbol, and the possibility of discrimination would never cross my mind. It's called a uniform for a reason.

Bottom line, ladies...You chose to work in public service positions. There is a uniform standard in each, and that rule is no religious emblem on display while on duty. It's not about your rights. It's about departure from the uniform standard.

Uniforms are standard for a reason-so everyone is equal in dress and appearance while serving the public in an identical capacity. You were hired as a nurse for your knowledge,or you were hired as a flight attendant for your skills, not because of the deity you worship ...So it is NOT NECESSARY for you to represent yourself as anything other than who and what you are while on duty. Your religious preference is a moot point at 35,000 feet in the air or rendering care in the ER. Your religious preference is between you and whatever deity you worship.

YOU are the ONLY person to whom this should matter....unless, of course, you are proselytizing...and the face is, that even if you never hand out a single religious tract, the mere fact you are representing yourself as a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or Pagan in public means you are seeking recognition of that by others.

While I belief that anyone should be free to wear an emblem of their chosen faith, no matter who they are and no matter what deity they worship, when you agree to take a paycheck from an employer who requires employees to wear a uniform that freedom ends for the time you are in uniform. That means no religious medals and pendants, no jewelry of any kind whatsoever- unless your employer makes the exception that is spelled out in the employees handbook. As an individual, if you actually feel you have a 'need' to wear an emblem of faith to 'remind' yourself how you should properly behave as an adherent of that faith, or to proclaim your personal relationship with G-d to the world, then it's my opinion you have a few things to work on in the areas of motivation and spiritual maturity.


  1. Great post! I have had a few jobs that required a uniform. None as fabulous as the ones listed though I must admit. It kills me how many people take a job that require certain clothing and then spend their entire career trying to find ways around it. If you don't like it take a different job!

    Then again I have also worked some place that were complete idiots about their choice of uniform for the job type. One job required a clean white shirt, but the job was so dirty that when you left the shirt was always stained. With the cost of shirts you had to eventually just wear the stained ones anyway. Lol

    Have a wonderful Ostara!

  2. I worked a stint as an employee for a popular candle retailer a few years back, and we wore black company issued shirts and tan or black pants...no jewelry other than small, plain earrings and wedding rings were permitted while on the job. The employee handbook specifically stated that we could wear earrings only if our ears were pierced because it was felt that "flashy jewelry detracted from sales by distracting customers from the product". They fired a store manager (who was also a trainer) for wearing dangling earrings because she violated the dress code.They had no other issue with her and she had been a model employee for over seven years. The state employment commission upheld the decision because her job was classified as 'at will'. I think the whole thing was ridiculously anal, but the rules are the rules.

    Blessed Ostara to you also!

  3. Yep when you sign the employee handbook notice saying you have read the rules, then you take your job into your hand each time you violate the rules. As a nurse we aren't allowed to wear colored nail polish, anything that dangles or more than one ring per hand, and absolutely no stones, we see violations everyday, and some are let go, and some get people written up then fired. it all depends on how strick the person in charge is, the one thing i know they aren't letting go anymore especially in hospitals is the fake nails, because it's a health code violation, they aren't taking the risk they will get fined because you want to rock those on your hand. I seen a few nurses get fired over 'stupid' stuff but that info was all in the handbook and you signed saying you understood and agreed to it. In your postition as a nurse your faith doesn't come into it, and wearing them unless you work in a catholic hospital or jewish home just makes you stand out for no reason.

    thanks for the well written article
    Be Blessed and Happy Ostara

  4. I agree with you. If the policy for the uniform dress-code says "no jewelry", that doesn't exempt jewelry consisting of religious symbols. It is not a separate matter - the two ladies in question (I didn't read the story) are trying to make it into something it's not. It's no different than my oldest son having to remove his tongue ring or the piercing he has between his lower lip and his chin when he is at work - it doesn't make a lick of difference if there is a itty bitty cross symbol on the stud (or something else)...it is jewelry. If a person feels the need to wear symbols to feel kinship with their Deity(ies) they can have them tattooed on them in inconspicuous places or simply put the necklace (or whatever) in their purse or pocket. Personally, I wear my pentacle necklace pretty much everywhere - even out in the open at the church during my wedding (I was lucky also to have employers who didn't mind jewelry) but I don't "have to have it with me" to be "connected" to my path.


Thank You for reading Broom With A View - Your comments are welcome and appreciated.