A Kentucky man won $450,000 in a lawsuit against his former employer who allegedly fired him for having a panic attack and leaving his own surprise birthday party.
Kevin Berling suffers from an anxiety disorder that causes him to suffer panic attacks whenever he is the center of attention in a large group of people.
It was for this specific reason that he asked his bosses at Gravity Diagnostics in Covington, a Kentucky medical lab, not to throw him a surprise birthday party, in 2019.
However, a manager at the company claims he forgot about Berling’s request, so they threw a birthday party for him anyway.
That caused Kevin to have a panic attack and storm out of his own celebration, which later caused him to lose his job.
According to Kenton County court filings, Kevin Berling’s surprise birthday party took place on August 7, 2019.
It didn’t go as well as his bosses and colleagues had planned, as the birthday boy himself suffered a panic attack and ran out of the office to his car.
Berling’s reaction didn’t sit too well with Gravity Diagnostics bosses, who later confronted Berling about his unusual reaction, accusing him of depriving his colleagues of the joy of celebrating his birthday, which only caused the man to have another panic attack.
“They started giving him a pretty hard time for his response to the birthday celebration, actually accusing him of stealing his co-workers’ joy,” Berling’s lawyer, Tony Bucher, said.
“Being the center of attention is a source of great stress.”
This time, Kevin’s reaction made Gravity Diagnostics management think that he could get angry and potentially violent, so a few days later, he was fired “because of the events of the previous week”.
Berling then sued Gravity Diagnostics for disability discrimination and retaliation, claiming that he “has suffered and is continuing to suffer from a loss of income and benefits and emotional distress and mental anxiety.”
A court recently awarded Berling $450,000 as compensation, but his former employer still has the chance to appeal the judge’s decision.
And to think it all started because they decided to throw a birthday party for the guy against his will…
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