A man who was told not to ‘be a baby’ and to ‘grow up’ by his managers when he was undergoing cancer treatment was subject to disability discrimination and constructive dismissal.
An employment tribunal in Birmingham heard that Steve Pointon, a security manager, was asked to justify his reasons for not being able to work at weekends.
Pointon worked at Alpha Omega Securities in Crewe for around 50 hours per week on a salary of £35,000 a year. In 2016, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer which involved what he described as “traumatic” treatment and placed on sick leave for six weeks after surgery.
He returned to work after sick leave despite significant side effects, the tribunal heard, but his managers complained about his performance. Andrew Taylor, the operations director at the company, told Pointon to “grow up” when he asked not to work at weekends.
Company director Ken Lawton, who was initially supportive of Pointon’s illness, then showed “a lack of emotional intelligence”, according to the tribunal judge, after complaining about how hard he had to work while Pointon was on sick leave.
Pointon was also expected to attend a meal for managers outside of working hours, despite having worked away from home for three days the previous week, but responded that family time was precious given his medical situation.
At the time Pointon had a young son and another child on the way and in 2018 was told the cancer had returned, although he is now in remission.
Doctors later classed Pointon as disabled and signed him off work to recover. He returned to four-day weeks under an agreement not to take calls out of hours, but was repeatedly asked why he could not attend weekend events. It was after this agreement that Taylor berated Pointon, the tribunal heard.
Pointon responded that arrangements were in place and if these were insufficient he would need to be signed off sick again. Taylor at this point said: “Don’t be a baby, if this is how you feel it would be your choice.” Pointon later resigned.
The judge ruled that “various acts of discrimination contributed to constructive dismissal”, and a remedy hearing will be scheduled in due course to decide compensation.