Emory Healthcare makes Juneteenth a paid holiday; cuts Christmas Eve

Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare is removing Christmas Eve as a recognized holiday and replacing it with Juneteenth. 

Christmas will remain a paid holiday, but the preceding day will not, Janet Christenbury, the health system's director of media relations, told Becker's. 

"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," Ms. Christenbury said. "At Emory Healthcare, we strive to support our employees and our diverse communities in recognizing holidays that are meaningful and important to them."

Some Emory employees were unhappy with the decision, saying they didn't want the observation of Juneteenth to come at another holiday's expense, Atlanta News First reported Aug. 31. 

"I think, in general, everyone at Emory is pretty frustrated right now," an unnamed Emory provider told the news station. "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."

Employees can still use paid time off for Christmas Eve, but will not automatically receive holiday compensation for the day, according to an internal memo from Emory CEO Joon Lee, MD, obtained by the news station. 

Emory currently observes nine paid holidays per year, while other area health systems average six, Dr. Lee wrote in the memo. 

"We are committed to providing our patients as much access to care as possible and always consider this factor in decisions regarding holidays," Ms. Christenbury said.

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