Housing District Employee Suspended For Displaying Cross

Colin Atkinson, the Wakefield District Housing (WDH) employee who was in the news recently for fighting for the right to keep displaying a palm cross in his van, has been suspended from work following continued harassment.

Mr Atkinson had displayed a small palm cross in his work van for fifteen years when his employers told him to remove it after an anonymous complaint suggested it may offend those of other faiths.

After a campaign mounted by Christian Concern and negotiations with his employer it was agreed in April that Mr Atkinson could continue to display his cross in his van.

Originally published by Christian Concern on August 1, 2011.

However, after a resolution had seemingly been found, Mr Atkinson suffered repeated problems at work. He was moved to a different workplace location 16 miles away, has had his work van removed from him and been told to travel by bus instead due to “general financial cutbacks.”

Mr Atkinson filed a grievance procedure and has now been told to stay at home. Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said:

“I thought common sense had triumphed when the company agreed I could go back to work. But I have found there is still a lot of hostility against me, even though I have done nothing more than defend the basic rights of Christians to express their faith in public.

“My employers have broken their promises and I believe they are trying to humiliate me or dismiss me for seeking to stand up for my rights. It is disgusting what they are doing.”

One of the bosses at WDH who had asked Mr Atkinson to remove the cross from his van disappeared from the office about a month after Mr Atkinson returned to work. His absence was due to Mr Atkinson’s presence in the office, according to the company.

Mr Atkinson added:

“Meanwhile, the boss resumed work three weeks ago but I feel he should be the one who should be moved, not me. My bosses have now offered me a pay-off to retire early but a condition is that I, my wife Geraldine and all my family would be prevented from speaking out publicly.

“That is not my style. It would be breaching my human rights.”

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“After a public outcry, Colin was allowed to return to work and to continue to display a palm cross in his van.

“However, since the media attention died away, he has suffered continued harassment and victimisation, and Wakefield and District Housing has not honoured its agreement to allow him to return to work. It seems that WDH hoped that Colin could be bought off and go quietly. But he will not be gagged or bullied.”

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