A Kentucky man won $450,000 in court after he was fired for allegedly being 'angry' that his bosses threw him a surprise party

An empty office
An empty office.Maskot/Getty Images
  • A Kentucky man won $450,000 in a lawsuit against his former company that fired him after he left his own birthday party in 2019.

  • Kevin Berling told his coworkers he didn't want a birthday party because he has an anxiety disorder.

  • The company threw him a party anyway, which triggered a panic attack in Berling.

A man won $450,000 in court after suing his former company for allegedly firing him for being "angry" that his office threw him a surprise birthday party against his will.

Kevin Berling has an anxiety disorder that gives him panic attacks, according to Kenton County court filings obtained by WKRC-TV. In August 2019, he told his bosses at Gravity Diagnostics in Covington, Kentucky, that he did not want to celebrate his birthday. But they threw him a surprise party anyway, the lawsuit says.

The officer manager at Gravity Diagnostics, a medical lab, said he forgot that Berling said he didn't want to celebrate his birthday. At the party, held during lunch on August 7, Berling had a panic attack and fled the scene to his car, according to the lawsuit.

The next day, his bosses "confronted and criticized" him for his reaction to the lunchtime celebration, the lawsuit says, which triggered another panic attack in Berling.

"Being the center of attention is a source of great stress" for Berling, the lawsuit says.

After meeting with his bosses, Berling worked from home for the rest of the week. Days later, he was fired "because of the events of the previous week," according to the lawsuit.

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"They started giving him a pretty hard time for his response to the birthday celebration, actually accusing him of stealing his co-workers' joy," Berling's lawyer, Tony Bucher, told WKRC-TV.

His bosses told him they worried he'd get "angry" and potentially violent, WKRC-TV reported.

Berling sued Gravity Diagnostics for disability discrimination and retaliation, arguing in court filings that he "has suffered and is continuing to suffer from a loss of income and benefits and emotional distress and mental anxiety."

Though Berling won $450,000 in court, the company still has the chance to appeal the judge's decision to award compensation for the damages.

Bucher told WKRC-TV that Berling is in therapy and has been a great employee to Gravity Diagnostics.

"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," Bucher said.

Read the original article on Insider