Cancer sufferer told to ‘grow up’ by his boss because he couldn’t work weekends

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A cancer sufferer was told to "grow up" by his boss when he said he couldn’t work weekends because of his illness.

Father-of-two Steve Pointon underwent a "brutal" and "traumatic" treatment regime after being diagnosed with kidney cancer at the age of 36, leaving him unable to work out of hours.

But after explaining this to his manager at the security firm where he worked, instead of being met with sympathy, he was told, "don’t be a baby" and asked why he thought he deserved to have "every weekend off".

Mr Pointon took his employers to a tribunal and is now in line for compensation after he was found to have been discriminated against and unfairly dismissed.

The hearing in Birmingham was told that Mr Pointon worked as a general manager at Alpha Omega Securities based in Crewe, Cheshire, earning £35,000 a year.

He’d previously worked around 50 hours a week at the company which provides security guards for shops and events.

But in August 2016 he was diagnosed with kidney cancer and underwent surgery the following month. He was off for six weeks and was given the all-clear a year later.

The tribunal heard that Mr Lawton, the director of the company, was initially very supportive but then, "showed a lack of emotional intelligence" by regularly moaning to Mr Pointon about how hard he had to work when he was off.

He was described as a man "who would not suffer dissent easily" and liked to be "seen to be in command".

When Mr Pointon returned to his job, he also discovered someone else had been brought in as Operations Director to help with the workload.

In January 2018, he was met with further bad news when he was told his cancer had returned and the "prognosis was poor".

As his condition deteriorated, Mr Pointon's doctor eventually told him he was classed as disabled and offered to sign him off to allow him time to recover properly.

When he did return to work again, he was put on a reduced schedule, only working four days a week, and his bosses agreed he wouldn't take calls out of hours.

But soon after, Mr Taylor called him into his office and reprimanded him for not pulling his weight at weekends.

Mr Pointon told his boss: "I can't give you any more. My doctor has advised my limitations on my fit note and my duties were agreed with Ken and yourself on record.

"If this is now not good enough for you then I will have no option other than to go home and sign back off sick."

Mr Taylor replied: "Don't be a baby, if that is how you feel it would be your choice. I am running a very busy business and need more from you."

Mr Pointon told the hearing that he felt as if he was being "forced out of the business" but was told "grow up, you are a senior manager and can't expect to have every weekend off".

He eventually resigned in November 2018, and in a letter to Mr Lawton, said: "[I resigned after] the culmination of the treatment [I] received from you, your fellow director and the company since my diagnosis of secondary cancer in January of (2018)."

Employment Judge Gary Self concluded: "[Calling him a baby] was unwanted conduct, and the intention was to put [Mr Pointon] in his place after he had had the temerity not to work over the weekend and stick to what had been agreed as the basis for his return to work.

"The purpose and the effect were to attack [his] dignity and to create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment."

He added: "While [Mr Lawton] wants [Mr Pointon] to get better, he principally want[ed] to know when his company can be running at full capacity again."

The tribunal found Mr Pointon's claims for unfair constructive dismissal, discrimination arising from disability and harassment succeeded but another allegation of victimisation failed.

A further hearing is due to take place to decide compensation.

  • Cancer

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