A local man may be in line to get nearly $500,000 all because of a birthday party he didn’t want. In 2019, Kevin Berling worked at Gravity Diagnostics in Covington, Kentucky, for around ten months.
The company would normally throw birthday celebrations for its workers, but because Berling suffered from anxiety disorders and panic attacks, he asked the company not to celebrate his birthday.
According to the lawsuit, the office manager forgot his request and still held a birthday party for Berling. The party triggered a panic attack so Berling left and spent his lunch hour in his car. His bosses held a meeting with him the next day to discuss the incident, which triggered another attack.
At that point, company managers told him to leave for the weekend and then fired him, claiming they were worried about him being angry and possibly becoming violent over the situation.
Berling’s lawyer, Tony Bucher, said that his client wasn’t being violent and that he was using coping techniques in order to calm himself down. He also added that the company seemed much more concerned over the well-being of others than his own client.
“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 ruled in Berling’s favor and awarded him $450,000 in damages, including $300,000 for mental anguish. “This may seem cliche to say, that the money was really secondary in this thing,” Bucher 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.”