Georgia Hospital Removes Christmas Eve As Paid Holiday – Replaces It With Juneteenth


A Georgia hospital removed Christmas Eve as a paid holiday and added Juneteenth to the list of paid holidays for employees.

Emory Healthcare (EHC) sent a letter to employees on Aug. 31 informing them of the change. Starting in 2023, employees will be able to receive holiday pay for Juneteenth – which falls on June 19 and not on Christmas Eve.

Juneteenth, which became the newest federal holiday in 2021, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, according to CNN.

“We hope this will allow more opportunities for celebration, reflection and education,” the letter from Emory Healthcare CEO Joon S. Lee said.

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The decision comes after EHC received feedback from employees regarding the holiday schedule. Based on the feedback, EHC decided to “make Juneteenth (June 19) an EHC observed holiday,” the letter said.

“EHC currently observes nine paid holidays each year, while other Atlanta systems average six paid holidays,” the letter explained, adding that offices and clinics are closed for each holiday observed.

In order to “minimize impact to patient care” EHC would not add “another paid holiday” to their calendar. Instead, EHC would be removing Christmas Eve from the holiday calendar and “replace it with Juneteenth.”

The change is set to take place at the beginning of 2024, with Christmas Eve 2023 being observed as a paid holiday.

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Several employees expressed their frustration with the decision to Atlanta News First.

“I think, in general, everyone at Emory is pretty frustrated right now,” one employee told the outlet. “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.”

Another employee expressed that this should be “an extremely joyful and collective celebration” but that it has become “another reminder of how our Black colleagues can’t have anything without sacrifice.”

“This is not what we have been pushing for,” the employee added. “We thought Juneteenth was being added to the holiday calendar.”

NAACP DeKalb County President Edwina Clanton questioned why EHC “can’t do both” holidays.

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IJR reached out to Emory Healthcare for a statement but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

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