In a lawsuit against a Kentucky company, an employee wins $450,000 for an unwanted birthday party
By Mike Stunson April 15, 2022
A Kentucky jury awarded $450,000 to a man who suffered panic attacks following an unwanted birthday celebration by his employer.
In August 2019, an employee at a Kentucky-based laboratory asked his office manager not to arrange a celebration for his birthday.
According to court records, it wasn’t his fear of growing older, but rather an anxiety disorder that causes panic attacks in stressful situations. According to company documents, the employee, who was hired in October 2018, did not want a celebration because “being the center of attention” could trigger his disorder.
His panic attack was triggered when his company threw him a lunchtime party against his wishes, and he left abruptly to spend his break in his car. After his office managers confronted him about his reaction, he was fired from the Northern Kentucky company four days later, according to court records.
The man sued Gravity Diagnostics, and this week, a jury awarded him $450,000 in damages for his lost wages and emotional distress.
His attorney said Gravity Diagnostics caused him to suffer “from the loss of income and benefits as well as emotional distress and mental anxiety.” The lawsuit was filed on grounds of disability discrimination and retaliation.
Among the $450,000 he was awarded were $120,000 for lost wages and $300,000 for “past, present, and future mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, mortification, and loss of self-esteem,” court records show.
His attorney, Tony Bucher, said he was happy to get his client “the vindication that he deserved.”
“Few people will know how much courage it took for him to take this case all the way to trial,” Bucher said in a statement to McClatchy News. “More than the financial award, I believe (he) was so happy and relieved that the jury recognized that he was not some violent and menacing person and that it was not okay for Gravity Diagnostics to just assume that he was without any evidence to support those misconceptions.”
Gravity Diagnostics will appeal the verdict, Brazil told Link NKY, based on “discovery of juror misconduct violating trial judge’s orders.”