You’ll never believe why this Kentucky employee was awarded $450k

What do you say when someone throws you a surprise birthday party, with cake and everything? Usually, you’re happy about it and thankful for being surrounded by people who care about you.

Well, one Kentucky employee was not at all happy about the birthday party his coworkers organized during lunch break and things turned really ugly. 

Apparently, in 2019, Kevin Berling had told his boss at Gravity Diagnostics he didn’t want a birthday party as he didn’t enjoy all the attention, citing an anxiety disorder. According to Berling, when he went into the lunchroom and saw there was a party for him after all, he suffered a panic attack and had to run to his car to calm down. Things escalated three days later when his boss accused him of ruining everyone’s mood with his behavior. Berling says the rebuke caused him another panic attack, but his boss and his coworkers tell a different story. They say Berling became violent to the point those present at the meeting feared for their safety. Berling was escorted out of the building and his access key was confiscated. He later received an email informing him he was fired for being a danger to the other employees.

Kevin Berling sued Gravity Diagnostics for discrimination on account of his condition. On March 31, 2022, a jury awarded him $150,000 for lost wages and benefits and an additional $300,000 for suffering, embarrassment, and loss of self-esteem.

His employer was livid when she heard the decision. Gravity Diagnostics founder Julie Brazil said that the verdict does not represent the facts and the company will challenge it based on “discovery of juror misconduct violating trial judge’s orders”. If necessary, the company will file an appeal against such an outrageous verdict.

“My employees deescalated the situation to get the plaintiff out of the building as quickly as possible while removing his access to the building, alerting me and sending out security reminders to ensure he could not access the building, which is exactly what they were supposed to do,” Brazil told WCPO.

“As an employer who puts our employee safety first, we have a zero-tolerance policy and we stand by our decision to terminate the plaintiff for his violation of our workplace violence policy. My employees were the victims in this case, not the plaintiff.”

Workplace discrimination is illegal in Kentucky under both state and federal law. Under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or disability. 

If you feel you’re being discriminated against in the workplace, the best thing you can do is reach out to an employment lawyer in your area to see if you have a case and what is the mechanism to file a complaint or a lawsuit. 

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