Man wins lawsuit over unwanted birthday party at work

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 3:35 AM EDT
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COVINGTON, Ky. (WKRC) - A Kentucky man won a lawsuit against his employer over a birthday party he never wanted and may get nearly $500,000 as a result.

Kevin Berling worked at Gravity Diagnostics in Covington for about 10 months in 2019. Because he suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, Berling asked the company not to celebrate his birthday, as it does for most employees.

According to Berling’s lawsuit, the office manager forgot his request and threw a birthday party for him anyway, which triggered a panic attack.

When his bosses met with him the next day about the incident, Berling had another panic attack and was subsequently fired over concerns he could become angry and possibly violent. Berling’s lawyer, Tony Bucher, says violence wasn’t an issue, and his client uses coping mechanisms to calm himself down.

He said the company apparently was more concerned about others than his client’s well-being.

“They started giving him a pretty hard time for his response to the birthday celebration, actually accusing him of stealing his co-workers’ joy,” Bucher said.

A jury sided with Berling in the case, awarding him $450,000 in damages that includes $300,000 for mental anguish. Bucher is planning to ask Gravity to pay legal fees as well.

The company could appeal the ruling.

Bucher says the suit wasn’t about the money but about Berling standing up for himself. He says his client is doing well but suffered from more attacks after the incident and is still in therapy.

He adds Berling had been a model employee and missed out on a huge opportunity as Gravity has seen massive growth due to COVID-19 testing.

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