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Gravesend man Michael Caller told job at Palmer and Harvey was 'at risk after tumour surgery'

A cancer sufferer is taking his former employer to a tribunal over claims he was made redundant because he was off work while having surgery.

Michael Caller, of West Street, Gravesend, was a transport manager for wholesalers Palmer & Harvey.

But the 44-year-old is now claiming unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

Ex-transport manager Michael Caller is taking his former employer to a tribunal
Ex-transport manager Michael Caller is taking his former employer to a tribunal

He said he had suffered back pain, between December 2010 and June 2011, and visited a doctor who diagnosed him with having gallstones.

He had his gall bladder removed - taking time off for surgery - but significant pain continued. Medics put it down to stress and he spent a year on anti-depressants.

But an MRI scan then revealed a large tumour was compressing his spine and had attached to his left ribs.

Mr Caller said: "I was sent to King's College Hospital for surgery. After a six-and-a-half-hour operation to remove part of the tumour compressing my spine, they fitted six pins, screws and rods to support the spine.

"I was also diagnosed with having multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of the marrowbone."

He spent three months in hospital recovering from the surgery, and had to learn to walk again while also having chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Mr Caller added: "I continued to work from my laptop within two weeks of having surgery and completed tasks for my depot and helped with spreadsheet tasks for all other bases across the country."

Palmer and Harvey in Snodland
Palmer and Harvey in Snodland

He said he was visited by a manager and told his job was at risk of redundancy and the firm was going from two transport managers at his depot in Snodland to one.

"They'd extended my sick pay, and a selection process was carried out," he said.

Mr Caller said the firm used three selection criteria – attendance, disciplinary records and length of service – and he believed his gallbladder surgery was considered in the process.

Mr Caller was made redundant on April 21 last year and an appeal was rejected. His tribunal is scheduled to take place in Ashford in July.

He added: "I am now finding it very difficult to obtain work as companies are reluctant to employ someone who has cancer. I have never been out of work."

Palmer & Harvey said the company did not comment on ongoing legal cases.

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