Cancer-sufferer makes Employment Tribunal claim for disability discrimination after being made redunant

MoJA cancer-sufferer is pursuing his former employer for disability discrimination after he was made redundant whilst off work ill.

Mr Michael Caeller, 44, worked as a transport manager for wholesalers Palmer & Harvey – the sixth-largest private company in the United Kingdom – until he was made redundant in April 2013. Mr Caller – who has diagnosed with cancer in 2012 – claims that the decision to make him redundant was influenced by the fact that he had to take significant periods of time off work sick because of his condition and has made claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination to the Employment Tribunal as a result.

The former transport manager stated that he had suffered back pain between December 2010 and June 2011 but was originally diagnosed as simply having gallstones. These were removed but he continued to experience pain in his back and an MRI scan in 2012 found that he had a large tumour which was compressing his spine and attached to his ribs. Surgery was immediately carried out and part of the tumour was removed. As a result he spent three months off work but was able after the second week off to undertake work-related tasks on his laptop. However, whilst he was off work sick he was visited by a manager and told that his job was at risk of redundancy as the firm was to reduce the number of transport managers at his depot. He was subsequently made redundant on 21 April 2011 and failed in an appeal against his dismissal.

Mr Caller’s Employment Tribunal claim continues and will apparently take place at the Ashford Employment Tribunal in July.

Palmer & Harvey did not comment, except to state that they do not comment on ongoing legal cases.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “If a worker has cancer then – under the Equality Act 2010 – they are automatically deemed to be disabled and protected against discrimination because of their disability. Mr Caller’s case appears to be that he was discriminated against because of his disability and that he would not have been made redundant but for the fact he had cancer.”