An American company announced on Monday its intention to appeal a court decision that awarded $450,000 to one of its employees, fired shortly after having a panic attack because of a birthday party organized against his will.
Bad memories related to the divorce of his parents
Kevin Berling, who says he suffers from anxiety, had warned his superior at Gravity Diagnostics that he did not wish to celebrate this day, explaining that it reminded him of bad memories linked to the divorce of his parents, according to court documents. But on August 7, 2019, during the lunch break, Kevin Berling had been wished “happy birthday” by certain colleagues and had discovered a banner unfurled for the occasion in the company’s rest room, located in the Kentucky (central east).
He then went to his car, in which he claims to have had a panic attack. The next day, during a small committee meeting, Kevin Berling was “carried away, clenching his fists and his teeth, his face red and trembling”, asking his boss to “shut up”, described John Maley, attorney for Gravity Diagnostics, in an email.
“Discrimination because of disability”
The supervisor and the other employee present “feared for their safety”, he added, which prompted the company to fire Kevin Berling. Before the incident, the latter had never been sanctioned or reprimanded for his behavior. Contesting his dismissal, Kevin Berling had sued Gravity Diagnostics for “discrimination on the basis of a disability”, obtaining at the end of March 450,000 dollars in compensation, including 150,000 for the loss of income and 300,000 for the humiliation, the loss of esteem. of oneself and the suffering caused.
The firm, which refutes any discrimination and says it was not informed of the employee’s anxiety problems, plans to appeal, according to John Maley. “Employers, particularly in this time of workplace violence, have the right and must take prompt action, like here, to protect their employees,” he said.