Cancer sufferer who was told to 'grow up' by his boss
‘Don’t be a baby’: Cancer sufferer who was told to ‘grow up’ by his boss when he took weekends off following ‘traumatic’ and ‘brutal’ treatment was unfairly dismissed, tribunal finds
- Steve Pointon was just 36 when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2016
- He had a young child and another on the way when he went through treatment
- He agreed to return to his job on the basis he would not work out of hours
- His boss Ken Lawton told him to ‘grow up’ when he refused to work weekends
A cancer sufferer was unfairly dismissed after he was told to ‘grow up’ by his ’emotionally unintelligent’ boss, a tribunal has found.
Steve Pointon was just 36 when he was first diagnosed with the disease and had to undergo a ‘traumatic’ and ‘brutal’ treatment regime.
When the father-of-two returned to work on the basis he would not field calls outside of work hours he was told to ‘grow up’ and asked why he thought he deserved to have ‘every weekend off’.
An employment tribunal described company director Ken Lawton as a man lacking in emotional intelligence ‘who would not suffer dissent easily’ and liked to be ‘seen to be in command’.
Mr Pointon is now in line for compensation after he was found to have been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against.
Steve Pointon (pictured) was just 36 when he was first diagnosed with the disease and had to undergo a ‘traumatic’ and ‘brutal’ treatment regime
The hearing in Birmingham was told that Mr Pointon worked as a £35,000-a-year general manager at Alpha Omega Securities based in Crewe, Cheshire.
The business provided security guards for events and shops and prior to his diagnosis Mr Pointon worked around 50 hours a week.
In August 2016 he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. At the time he had a young son and another child on the way.
Mr Lawton was director of the company and in its judgement the tribunal stated: ‘It was within his gift and his gift alone to offer indulgences.
‘His way was the only way, and the Tribunal did not consider that Mr Lawton would suffer dissent easily or at all. Mr Lawton wished not only to be in command but to be seen to be in command.’
In September, Mr Pointon underwent surgery and was off for six weeks before being given the all clear a year later.
He went back to working full time despite still suffering significant side effects.
The tribunal heard that Mr Lawton, who was initially very supportive, ‘showed a lack of emotional intelligence’ by regularly moaning to Mr Pointon about how hard he had to work when he was off.
When Mr Pointon returned he discovered another man, Andrew Taylor, been brought in as Operations Director to help with the workload.
Sadly, in January 2018 however, he was told his cancer had returned and the ‘prognosis was poor’.
An employment tribunal described company director Ken Lawton (pictured) as a man lacking in emotional intelligence ‘who would not suffer dissent easily’ and liked to be ‘seen to be in command’
A few weeks later he declined to attend a work dinner stating that time with his family was now even more ‘precious’. In response, Mr Lawton told him off for ‘daring to challenge’ his ‘generosity’.
Mr Pointon’s doctor eventually told him he was technically classed as disabled and offered to sign him off to allow him time to recover.
When he returned he was on a reduced schedule only working four days a week and his bosses agreed he wouldn’t take calls out of hours.
A short while later however, Mr Taylor called him into his office and berated him for not pulling his weight at the weekends.
During the conversation, Mr Pointon said: ‘I can’t give you anymore. 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 said 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’.
After that an upset Mr Pointon told him ‘there was nothing silly about putting his health first’ and left the office.
Mr Pointon went back on sick leave but was then sent a hand delivered letter from Mr Lawton asking when he would be back at work.
Mr Pointon eventually resigned in November 2018, and in a letter to Mr Lawton, he 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 hearing to decide compensation will be held at a later date.
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