Surprise! A Kentucky man has been awarded $450,000 — after his colleagues threw him an office birthday party against his wishes.
Kevin Berling, 29, was working as a lab technician at Gravity Diagnostics in Covington when his co-workers conducted the lunchtime celebration back in August 2019.
Berling said he subsequently suffered a panic attack from the unwanted attention, and was soon fired from Gravity Diagnostics. He later filed a compensation suit against the company, according to legal docs seen by The Post.
“Managers started giving him a hard time for his response to the birthday celebrations,” Berling’s attorney, Tony Bucher, told local TV news outlet WKRC. “They actually accused him of stealing his co-workers’ joy.”
Berling had allegedly asked the office manager not to throw a birthday party for him when he first joined the company in 2018.
However, the manager subsequently “forgot” his request, and the office festivities went ahead, giving Berling a panic attack. He was forced to flee to his car, where he spent an hour trying to recover.
The following day, company bosses held a meeting with Berling to ask about his behavior. That incident sparked a second panic attack.
Berling was fired from Gravity Diagnostics less than a week later, with bosses telling him they were “worried about him being angry and possibly becoming violent.”
The lab technician subsequently missed out on being a part of Gravity Diagnostic’s rapid growth, which occurred during the Covid pandemic. At the time, some employees were given 300% raises, the Independent reported.
The sacked worker subsequently filed a lawsuit in Kenton County, seeking damages and compensation for lost income.
Bucher told WKRC that there was no chance of his client becoming violent, saying he was simply “using coping techniques to calm himself down” during both of his panic attacks.
On Friday, a 12-person jury unanimously awarded Berling a $450,000 judgment against the company.
The amount includes $120,000 in lost wages and benefits, $30,000 in future wages, and $300,000 for “past, present and future mental pain and suffering, mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, mortification, and loss of self-esteem,” according to the court’s judgment in Berling’s favor.
Gravity Diagnostics can now appeal the decision, but it is unclear whether they plan to do so. The Post has reached out for comment.