Emory Healthcare SCRAPS Christmas Eve as paid holiday, replaces with Juneteenth

Even the local NAACP president asked why we can't have our old holidays off!


Dr. Joon Lee, the CEO of Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, Georgia, notified employees that the company would no longer offer holiday pay for Christmas Eve because it was adding Juneteenth to the holiday calendar starting in 2024. 

In a statement, Lee said the executive leadership team decided to make Juneteenth an observed holiday, however, he added that "to minimize impact to patient care, we will not be adding another paid holiday to our calendar." Instead, "we will remove Christmas Eve from our holiday calendar and replace it with Juneteenth." 

"EHC currently observes nine paid holidays each year, while other Atlanta health systems average six paid holidays," wrote Lee. "For each observed holiday, our clinics and business offices close, which means our patients are unable to make clinic appointments for those days." 

Emory, which is the largest healthcare system in Georgia, explained that its leadership came to the decision to add the holiday after listening to employee feedback and allowing employees "more opportunities for celebration, reflection, and education." 

One employee reportedly stated, "I think, in general, everyone at Emory is pretty frustrated right now." They added, "You can’t replace one for the other. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s essentially pitting a Christian holiday against something that’s to be celebratory for everyone – but specifically for our Black colleagues." 

"Something that should be an extremely joyful and collective celebration has become another reminder of how our Black colleagues can’t have anything without sacrifice," another employee said. "This is not what we have been pushing for. We thought Juneteenth was being added to the holiday calendar."

NAACP DeKalb County President Edwina Clanton said, "I don’t understand, why they can’t do both." She added, "I’m sure it will put anger in some hearts." 

“Why do we have to do this? Why can’t we have our old holidays off? Some more consideration, even asking the employees which days you want to give up, that may have worked better," Clanton concluded. 

In response to the controversy, a spokesperson said, "In response to requests from our care team members over the past few years, we are pleased to add Juneteenth to the holidays we recognize. At Emory Healthcare, we strive to support our employees and our diverse communities in recognizing holidays that are meaningful and important to them. Christmas has been, and will remain a recognized holiday." 

"However, beginning in 2024, we will remove Christmas Eve as a recognized holiday and replace it with Juneteenth," it said. "We are committed to providing our patients as much access to care as possible and always consider this factor in decisions regarding holidays."

In 2021, June 19 was designated by President Biden as Juneteenth National Independence Day. It celebrates the day that the news of the abolition of slavery reached those in Texas, over two years after President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect after the Civil War. 

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