There is an interesting case out of Kentucky where an employee of Gravity Diagnostics has been awarded $450,000 after the company threw a birthday party for him in August 2019. The employee has an anxiety disorder and did not want a party.
Days before his birthday the employee asked his office manager to not arrange a celebration for his birthday because of his disorder and desire not to be “the center of attention.” When they decided to throw the lunchtime party anyway, the employee had a panic attack and went to have his lunch in his car. Four days later, office managers confronted him about his reaction to the party and he was soon thereafter fired.
The founder and chief operating officer of Gravity Diagnostics Julie Brazil maintains that the employee presented a threat to the workplace. She told Link NKY that
“[m]y 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. 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.”
The employee said that he was sent home after being confronted by supervisors and, despite apologizing for his panic attack, he later received an email stating “he was being terminated because of the events of the previous week.”
The $450,000 award includes $120,000 for lost wages and $300,000 for “past, present and future mental pain and suffering, mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, mortification and loss of self-esteem.
Gravity Diagnostics is appealing.