When someone says a birthday celebration at work would trigger distress, employers might want to put away the cake and balloons.

A Kentucky man was awarded $450,000 after he sued over a series of events that started when he told his supervisor he didn’t want a birthday celebration at work.

According to news reports, a supervisor at Gravity Diagnostics forgot to pass his request on, the party happened and a panic attack ensued. In the lawsuit, Kevin Berling said he’d warned his supervisor that he suffers from anxiety and a party would bring back distressing memories of his parents’ divorce.

According to Fortune magazine, Berling had a panic attack over it on his Aug. 7, 2019 birthday and was so upset he went to his car to finish his lunch. “A day after the surprise party, Berling was called into a meeting to discuss his reaction. He said he was ‘criticized’ for the way he acted and this ‘confrontation triggered another panic attack.’”

Berling’s attorney, Tony Bucher, described the meeting in an interview with Link NKY, a northern Kentucky news website. Berling said one of his superiors “started reading him the riot act and accused him of stealing other coworkers’ joy,” Bucher said.

The lawyer said when Berling started employing coping techniques he’d learned in therapy, he was asked to stop. His company sent him home and told him not to come back for a few days. Later that week, he was fired by email. His company gave fear he would become violent as the reason for his dismissal.

“The company claimed they were worried about Berling being angry and possibly violent,” Bucher said, though Berling had no history of violence. Basically, the company fired him for having a panic attack, Bucher told Link NYK. “They made assumptions that he was dangerous based off his disability and not off of any evidence that he was violent.”

Berling sued for disability discrimination.

During the two-day trial last month, the jury awarded Berling $300,000 for emotional distress and $150,000 for lost wages.

The New York Times reported Monday that the judge has not yet entered a judgment regarding the verdict, which was reached in late March. And it noted that a lawyer for Gravity Diagnostics, John Maley, said the company planned to file post-trial motions challenging the verdict. Maley said Berling had not told the company about his anxiety disorder and “had not met the legal threshold to qualify as having a disability.”

According to that article, “Mr. Maley said that the company had the right to fire Mr. Berling — a lab technician whose employment status was at-will, meaning he could be fired for any legal reason — because he had clenched his fists, his face had turned red and he had ordered his supervisors to be quiet in the meeting, scaring them.”

Berling’s lawyer countered that he closed his fists as part of a calming technique he’d learned and placed them in a semi-hugging position against his own chest.

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America, affecting 40 million adults. The organization says anxiety disorders arise from complex risk factors that include “genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events.”

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