Kevin Berling told his manager at Gravity Diagnostics in Covington in 2019 that a birthday celebration would leave him extremely stressed.
The introductory video above is from a previous report on the workplace situation.
But the company didn’t heed his request, and Berling suffered a panic attack, Courier Magazine reported. The next day, Berling had another panic attack when his superiors punished him for “stealing joy” from a coworker and “being a little girl,” according to a lawsuit. Berling was fired after the second wave of attacks.
Berling alleges in his lawsuit that the company discriminated against him because of his disability and retaliated against him for asking for a reasonable accommodation for it.
The jury returned the verdict after a two-day trial in Kenton County that ended in late March. The jury awarded him $300,000 for mental distress and $150,000 in lost wages.
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A lawyer for the company, Katherine Kennedy, said they continue to disclaim liability and are pursuing post-trial options.
Julie Brazil, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, said in an emailed statement to the newspaper that “with incidents of workplace violence on the rise, this ruling sets a precedent.” It is very dangerous for employers and most importantly employees that unless physical violence actually occurs, violence in the workplace is tolerable.”
Brazil says her employees, rather than the plaintiff, are the victims in the case.
Berling’s attorney, Tony Bucher, said when the jury met with his client, they realized the company’s claims that he posed a threat were far-fetched.
Berling had told his supervisor that a birthday celebration would bring back bad childhood memories surrounding his parents’ divorce. The company said the supervisor forgot to forward his request.
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https://abc7news.com/office-birthday-lawsuit-louisville-kentucky-kevin-berling-gravity-diagnostics/11765433/ Kentucky: Jury awards $450,000 to Gravity Diagnostics employee who turned down office birthday party