A Kentucky lab technician was awarded nearly a half-million dollars after being fired from a job where he asked his employer not to throw him a birthday party, then reacted badly when they did.
CBS News reports that Kevin Berling had been working for Gravity Diagnostics in Covington, Ky., for 10 months when his birthday came around on Aug. 7, 2019.
While birthday parties are said to be standard practice at the medical company, Berling claimed in a lawsuit that he suffers from an anxiety disorder and told the office manager a celebration in his honor would not be welcomed.
That administrator allegedly forget about Berling’s request and a party was held, where Berling suffered a panic attack.
“Being the center of attention is a source of great stress for plaintiff,” his lawsuit alleges.
Berling reportedly spent his lunch hour in his car trying to recuperate.
The following day, he met with his bosses over the incident where his lawyer Tony Bucher claims Berling was called “a little girl” who robbed his co-workers of a joyful experience. That confrontation allegedly triggered another panic attack, leaving Berling unable to finish his workday.
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His employment was soon after terminated by superiors who worried Berling’s apparent anger might turn into violence, according to the report. Bucher told CBS News Berling’s coping techniques, meant to calm him down, were misinterpreted.
Bucher said his client suffered further panic attacks since the incident, but is in therapy and doing well. He also credited Berling for overcoming his anxiety and testing in front of 12 jurors, who sided with his position. He was awarded $300,000 for mental anguish as part of a $450,000 ruling.
Gravity Diagnostics plans to fight that judgment. Company founder Julie Brazil told CBS News the jury verdict reached in late March set a “very dangerous” precedent” that “unless physical violence actually occurs, workplace violence is acceptable.”
The plaintiff had warned a supervisor memories a birthday celebration could trigger bad childhood from his parents’ divorce, according to CBS News.