US man wins huge payout after unwelcome birthday party
Posted On April 19, 2022
A US man has been awarded $610,000 in damages after his former employers held a birthday party for him against his wishes.
A local court in Kentucky heard that Kevin Berling suffers from an anxiety disorder and was upset when he heard a birthday party had been planned for him at Gravity Diagnostics, a medical laboratory where he worked, in 2019.
He asked his manager to cancel the birthday party because of his disorder.
But the party wasn’t cancelled and, according to the lawsuit, he had a panic attack after finding out the party was still going ahead.
Mr Berling spent the lunch break in his car.
He was “confronted and criticised” at a meeting the following day, where he was accused of “stealing his co-workers joy” and “being a little girl”.
Mr Berling had a second panic attack during the meeting and started to employ some coping techniques such as “hugging himself”, Mr Butcher was quoted by local news outlet Link NKY as saying.
Staff were unnerved by Mr Berling’s reaction, with some mistakenly believing he was about to become violent, Mr Butcher said.
They left the room and he was sent home.
A few days later, Mr Berling received an email saying his position had been terminated “because of the events of the previous week”, the lawsuit stated.
In his lawsuit, Mr Berling alleged he was discriminated against because of his disability.
The jury found in his favour, awarding him $610,000, which included $405,000 for emotional distress and $205,000 in lost wages.
Gravity Diagnostics Chief Operating Officer, Julie Brazil, told Link NKY that Gravity Diagnostics stood by its decision to fire Mr Berling as he violated a “workplace violence policy”.
“My employees were the victims in this case, not the plaintiff,” she said.
The company was considering challenging the verdict with an appeal, she added.