A Kentucky man won a $450,000 settlement after suing his employer, Gravity Diagnostics, over an unwanted office birthday party that led to his firing.
According to court documents, the employee has an anxiety disorder that can trigger panic attacks in highly stressful situations such as “being the center of attention,” so he asked his employer not to throw him a birthday party, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
Gravity Diagnostics threw the man an office lunchtime birthday party against his wishes triggering a panic attack.
The traumatized employee ran out of the building and spent his lunchbreak in his car.
He was fired four days later after management confronted him about his reaction to the birthday party, the paper reported.
A jury awarded the employee $450,000 in damages this week – $120,000 in lost 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 court documents, the paper reported.
The lawsuit was filed on grounds of disability discrimination and retaliation. the paper reported.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported:
It wasn’t the fear of getting older, but rather an anxiety disorder that can spur “panic attacks in stressful situations,” according to court documents. The employee, who was hired in October 2018 by Gravity Diagnostics, did not want a celebration because “being the center of attention” can trigger his disorder, the documents state.
He eventually sued Gravity Diagnostics, and this week, a jury awarded the man $450,000 in damages for his lost wages and emotional distress.
“My employees de-escalated 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 Link NKY. “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.
When the employee left the office on Aug. 7 to spend the remainder of his birthday lunch in his car, he texted his office manager asking why she failed “to accommodate his request (to) … forego the standard birthday celebration,” his attorney states.
A day later after he arrived for work, he was called into a meeting with two superiors, who “confronted and criticized” him for how he reacted to the birthday party he did not want, according to the lawsuit. This caused him to have another panic attack.
He was sent home from work for the next two days and later apologized for having the panic attack. On Aug. 11 he received an email stating “he was being terminated because of the events of the previous week,” the lawsuit states.
Gravity Diagnostics is expected to appeal the verdict.
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