Because of an anxiety disorder, a man in Kentucky didn’t want a birthday party. He sued his employer for setting up the birthday party, anyway.
Now, jurors have sided with the plaintiff. His former employer has been ordered to pay him $450,000.
The decision was made this week in Kenton County Circuit Court in Northern Kentucky. The worker was employed by Gravity Diagnostics. Kevin Berling had filed a lawsuit after he was terminated after a birthday party that they held for him in August.
Court documents show that the employee told his office manager that a birthday celebration would cause him anxiety. He added that when he is the center of attention, it triggers panic attacks.
The employee had requested days earlier that no birthday celebration be held as they did for other workers.
On August 7, the plaintiff’s birthday, the office had planned for a birthday party during lunch. As he was walking to the lunch room, he learned of the celebration that was about to take place. Berling then had a panic attack.
The incident resulted in the employee “leaving the office suddenly and spending his lunch break in his car.”
Berling texted the office manager, wondering why his request of no birthday celebration wasn’t granted.
The following day, the office manager held a meeting, with him included, scolding him about his response to the party. That caused another panic attack which led the worker to ask the office manager to stop.
Berling was put on leave for two days and was notified that he was being fired “because of the events of the previous week.”
Gravity Diagnostics was sued based on disability discrimination and retaliation.
Berling was awarded $300,000 for his emotional distress, and $150,000 for wages that were lost.