A judge has awarded a Kentucky man US $450,000 after the company he worked for threw him a birthday party against his wishes.
In August 2019, Kevin Berling, told his manager at Gravity Diagnostic that he did not want a work birthday party as it would cause him stress.
According to the Guardian, the bloke, who suffers from anxiety, was concerned that a birthday party would bring up painful childhood memories and elicit a panic attack.
However, Berling’s attorney said that the person who facilitates birthday parties at the workplace ‘flat-out forgot about his request’.
As predicted, the unwanted celebrations triggered a panic attack for the worker, who was forced to retreat to his car and practise breathing techniques until he calmed down.
He then notified his manager that he was upset that his wishes weren't honoured, resulting in criticism from managers over his reaction.
Bucher told Link NKY: "They started giving him a pretty hard time for his response to the birthday celebration, actually accusing him of stealing his co-workers' joy.”
The confrontation between him and his employers triggered ‘another panic attack’, Local 12 reports.
Berling was ordered to take the weekend off and was subsequently fired, as his employers feared he would become angry again and possibly violent.
But, a Kenton County jury sided with Berling, and a judge awarded him $450,000 in damages, including $300,000 for mental anguish.
Gravity Diagnostics chief operating officer, Julie Brazil, said she was displeased with the outcome and said it sets a dangerous precedent for future employees.
“As an employer who puts our employee safety first, we have a zero-tolerance policy and we stand by our decision to terminate the plaintiff for his violation of our workplace violence policy,” she said.
“My employees were the victims in this case, not the plaintiff.”
But the bloke's attorney applauded him for standing up. Despite suffering from an anxiety disorder, he was still able to pursue the workplace for damages in front of a judge and jury.
"This may sound cliche to say that the money was really secondary in this thing,” he said.
“It was a big step for someone who doesn't like that kind of attention to stand up in front of 12 jurors and stand up for himself."