Recently, Kevin Berling from Kentucky was awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wrongful termination case. While the story may seem a bit straightforward at first, the reason behind this former employee’s firing is very bizarre. According to reports, Berling was fired from his job for not celebrating his birthday!
The incident took place back in 2019 when Berling requested his employer Gravity Diagnostics not throw him a birthday party due to his anxiety disorder. However, according to Berling’s lawyer, “the person who was responsible for the birthday parties, who he talked to, flat out forgot about his request.”
This resulted in the party going forward which led to Berling suffering from a panic attack. He then ran out to his car to calm himself down, during the party. This did not sit well with his employers, who chastised him for his behaviour, which led to him having another panic attack.
As Berling’s lawyer describes it, “According to my client, she started reading him the riot act and accused him of stealing other coworkers’ joy.” But the matter didn’t end there. Three days later Berling was terminated via an email, citing his “violet” behaviour during the meeting, which made supervisors fear for their safety.
As expected, he sued his now-former employer for disability discrimination, back in September 2019. Fast forward to 2022, the jury reached a verdict on March 31st, siding on behalf of Berling.
The jury then awarded Berling $150,000 for lost wages and benefits along with an additional $300,000 for suffering, embarrassment and loss of self-esteem. However, the judge is yet to pass a judgement regarding the verdict.
On the other side of the fence, Gravity Diagnostics company founder and COO Julie Brazil told WCPO-TV, “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.”
Further adding, “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.”
Brazil also confirmed that Gravity Diagnostics plans on challenging the verdict shortly.
Featured Image Credits – Adi Goldstein (Splash), CBS