I told my bosses not to celebrate my birthday – they threw me a party anyway and I sued them for $450,000

I told my bosses not to celebrate my birthday – they threw me a party anyway and I sued them for $450,000

A KENTUCKY man who asked his employers to not throw him a birthday party due to his anxiety disorder has successfully sued the company after they surprised him – then fired him after he suffered a panic attack.

Plaintiff Kevin Berling claims he lost his job in 2019 just days after the birthday party incident because his bosses were concerned about him being "angry," according to the lawsuit he filed.

Court documents show that on March 31, 2022, a jury awarded Berling $450,000 after concluding that Berling suffered an "adverse employment action" from the company Gravity Diagnostics due to his mental disability, NBC News reported.

In August 2019, Berling told his office manager that he did not want to celebrate his birthday, which was an office tradition, as it would trigger a panic attack.

He had been with the company for ten months at that point.

The office manager failed to remember his request, and the company surprised him with a celebration in the lunchroom on August 7, 2019.

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The suit says Berling had a panic attack and abruptly left the party to spend the remainder of his lunch in his car.

He then texted the manager regarding his request which was not honored.

The lawsuit says that a day later Berling "was confronted and criticized" in a meeting for his reaction to the event.

Berling claims the meeting triggered another attack, and then his bosses told him to leave for the weekend.

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Berling says he was subsequently fired because of the week's events, and company managers said they were worried about him being "angry and possibly becoming violent," Local 12 reported.

Berling's lawyer Tony Bucher told Local 12 that the company managers "started giving him a pretty hard time for his response to the birthday celebration – actually accusing him of stealing his coworkers' joy."

The jury sided with the plaintiff, ultimately deciding to award Berling $450,000 which included $120,000 in lost wages and benefits, $30,000 in future lost wages and benefits, and $300,000 for mental anguish.

Founder and COO of Gravity Diagnostics Julie Brazil said told Link NKY that the verdict does not represent facts or the company's employer rights.

Brazil said her employees did "exactly what they were supposed to do" given the situation.

"My employees deescalated the situation to get the plaintiff out of the building as quickly as possible while removing his access to the building, alerting me, and sending out security reminders to ensure he could not access the building," Brazil told Link NKY.

She explained that workplace violence is on the rise and claimed "my employees were the victims in this case, not the plaintiff."

However, Berling's lawyer maintained that his client posed no real threat to his bosses.

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"I think the significance for employers is that they need to understand that they shouldn’t make assumptions about individuals with mental health issues," Berling's lawyer Tony Bucher said in a statement.

"Kevin was an exceptional employee that went above and beyond for his employer and if they would have taken a step back it would have been clear that he did not present any danger at all."

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