TERRy Foster was sacked from his job... because he had cancer.
Now, following a court case where Terry, 58, successfully sued his former employers for unfair dismissal, he is speaking out to warn other cancer survivors of the possible problems when returning to work.
Terry, who worked as an engineer for a refrigeration firm, was told by his bosses he wouldn’t be able to handle the ‘stress of the job’ after recovering from a lymphoma.
He had been forced to take time off work after being taken into intensive care at Southport Hospital. At one point he was given hours to live.
He is one of 2,300 people who are diagnosed with cancer each year in the North West and who have or will face discrimination in their workplace, according to estimates based on new research released by Macmillan Cancer Support.
Terry was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2010.
After treatment he was dismissed from his job as a refrigeration engineer but sued the company for unfair dismissal and discrimination.
He said: “Initially my line manager was supportive when I told him I had cancer – he said they’d continue to pay me and to take any time off I needed. But I’d only been back at work for a couple of weeks after treatment when he informed me they’d have to let me go and that I was going to be sacked.
“There was no period of grace. There was nothing.
“It was as though I had done something wrong. I had been in intensive care for nineteen days and was given hours to live.
“While I was in intensive care my wife, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, was called to one side and said there wasn’t much else they could do.”
Remarkably, Terry recovered but despite the amazing news, Terry hopes of a return to his normal life were dashed by his boss.
“It was made clear to me that I was being sacked because I had cancer.
“They told me they didn’t want to hinder my recovery and that by sacking me it would reduce the stress on me.
“I went into a state of shock. I pointed out to him that this was completely illogical and he was actually increasing the stress on me because I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage.
“When I told my wife she burst into tears, it was awful, we had a new born baby and it was the most horrible time for both of us.
“We really struggled financially during this period and the stress and worry of it all impacted on my recovery.”
After the employment tribunal Terry was awarded £62,000 for unfair dismissal.
He is now warning others that they could face the same neglectful treatment when they return to work.
He has joined a call by Macmillan on employers to make sure that they have appropriate policies in place and that their HR and line managers have the skills to support staff affected by cancer.
A spokesperson for Macmillan said: “It is also vital that employers fulfil their legal obligations to make reasonable adjustments which could enable employees with cancer to stay in or return to work if they want to.”