A recent court decision teaches employers a strange (but important) lesson: Don’t throw an employee a birthday party if they don’t want one.
One company did this — and ended up paying the employee $450,000.
Here’s what happened.
Kevin Berling worked at Gravity Diagnostics in Covington, KY, for about 10 months before his birthday came around. Having an anxiety disorder, Berling asked his manager not to throw him a birthday party.
However, Berling’s co-workers took it upon themselves to throw him a surprise party, of which his manager wasn’t aware. A party was set up in the breakroom. Upon encountering this, Berling had a panic attack and left the party, choosing to eat his lunch alone in his car.
The next day, two supervisors confronted Berling about his “somber” reaction to the party, which resulted in another panic attack. Berling was fired a few days later, his supervisors citing concerns about his “violent” behavior in that meeting.
Berling then sued the company for disability discrimination.
Unaware of Disability
Gravity Diagnostics fought back,