Man Awarded $450,000 After Employer Celebrated His Birthday Against His Wishes

A Kentucky man has won a $450,000 payout after he asked his former employer not to celebrate his birthday and was surprised with a celebration.
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According to a lawsuit filed in Kenton County court, Kevin Berling - who suffers from an anxiety disorder - requested that his old employer, Gravity Diagnostics, did not do anything to mark his birthday because it could trigger a panic attack.

Unsurprisingly, when a lunchtime celebration was sprung on him, Berling got upset. Things only got worse when, several days later, he was fired.

But on March 31, Berling finally got back at his old employer's when a jury found that he had suffered an "adverse employment action" and awarded him $450,000, per court documents obtained by NBC News.
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Berling's trouble with Gravity Diagnostics started in August 2019, when he put in a special request with his office manager not to celebrate his birthday - as was a tradition within the company.

Even though Berling explained that a birthday party could trigger a panic attack, his colleagues ignored his wishes and went ahead with organizing a surprise lunchtime party for him.

According to the lawsuit Berling filed against the company, he suffered a panic attack at the celebration and quickly escaped to his car, where he hid for the remainder of the break.

The next day, he was called into a meeting with managers - but not so that they could apologize. Instead, Berling was "confronted and criticized" for his anxious reaction.

"This confrontation triggered another panic attack," the lawsuit reads. "At the conclusion of this meeting and because plaintiff had a panic attack, plaintiff was sent home from work for the remainder of August 8 and August 9."
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On August 11, Berling was sent a letter in which he was informed that his employment had been terminated "because of the events of the previous week."

The shocked employee has since successfully sued for disability discrimination and retaliation.

Meanwhile, Founder and COO of Gravity Diagnostics Julie Brazil told Link NKY that Berling was fired for a different reason - "workplace violence."

"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, which is exactly what they were supposed to do," she said.

However, the court sided with Berling - resulting in his massive payout.

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