Man Awarded $450K After Unwanted Office Birthday Party

Kentucky man said it triggered a panic attack
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2022 7:22 AM CDT
Kentucky Man Sues Over Unwanted Office Birthday Party
   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A Kentucky man's former employer will have to pay him $450,000 after throwing him an unwanted birthday party and then firing him when it wasn't well received by him. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the plaintiff sued Gravity Diagnostics over the events of August 2019, accusing the company of disability discrimination and retaliation, and a Kenton County Circuit Court jury agreed with him. Per court documents, the man informed the office manager that, due to his anxiety disorder, he would likely have a panic attack if an office party was thrown for him. He requested that the office's birthday ritual not be applied to him. But on Aug. 7, a birthday party was reportedly held in the lunchroom.

The employee said he learned about the party as he was about to take his lunch break and subsequently had a panic attack. He left the office and sat in his car for the duration of his lunch break. WLWT reports he also texted the office manager to ask why his request wasn't honored. Per the suit, the next day the employee was made to attend a meeting in which he was "confronted and criticized" about his reaction to the party. He said the conversation triggered another panic attack, and his lawyer, Tony Bucher, tells Link NKY, "At this point he starts employing other coping techniques that he’s worked on for years with his therapist."

"The way he described it is he started hugging himself and asked them to please stop," continued Bucher. The man was sent home for two days and then fired, with the company citing "the events of the previous week," per his suit. The company argued that they believed he was on the verge of becoming violent. Counters Bucher, "They made assumptions that he was dangerous based off of his disability and not off of any evidence that he was violent." The man was awarded $300,000 for emotional distress and $150,000 for lost wages and benefits. (Read more birthday party stories.)

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