Man wins £345k compensation after work threw unwanted surprise birthday party

A man has received $450,000 (£345,314) after being thrown an unwanted birthday party at work.

Kevin Berling claimed that the party at Gravity Diagnostics in Kentucky, US, caused him to have panic attacks.

His lawsuit against the Covid testing company alleges discrimination based on a disability, but Gravity Diagnostics deny any wrongdoing.

According to Mr Berling's lawsuit he asked his manager for his birthday not to be celebrated in the way other employees' had been.

He suffers from anxiety disorders and feared that a big celebration would bring up uncomfortable childhood memories and cause a panic attack.

Despite this, a surprise party was thrown for Mr Berling in August 2019, with Mr Berling leaving work to finish his lunch in his car after suffering a panic attack.

The lawsuit then alleges that he suffered a second panic attack the following day when he was "confronted and criticised" in a meeting, accused of "stealing his co-workers joy" and "being a little girl".

Gravity Diagnostics sent him home for the rest of August 8 and told him to stay there on August 9, before sacking him on August 11, claiming to be concerned about workplace safety.

Last month a jury awarded Mr Berling $450,000 after he alleged the company had unfairly retaliated against him and discriminated against him because of a disability.

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Two thirds of the fee was awarded for emotional distress and the rest for lost wages.

Julie Brazil, COO of Gravity Diagnostics, said that they stand by the decision to sack Mr Berling as he violated a "workplace violence policy".

"My employees were the victims in this case, not the plaintiff," she told Link NKY.

She also said that they are appealing the decision because of the "discovery of juror misconduct violating trial judge’s orders, and then an appeal if necessary".

Tony Bucher, Mr Berling's attorney, said there was "absolutely no evidence" to suggest that he posed a threat to other employees.

He told the BBC: "He had a panic attack. That is all. And, because representatives from Gravity Diagnostics did not understand his panic response and were unnerved by his response, they assumed he was a threat.

"Assuming that people with mental health issues are dangerous without any evidence of any violent behaviour is discriminatory."

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