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A man won $450k suing his company over a surprise birthday party!

A man won $450k suing his company over a surprise birthday party!


A Kentucky man was recently awarded $450,000 in a lawsuit against his ex-employer for throwing him an unwanted birthday party that triggered stress and anxiety.

Evidently suffering from an anxiety disorder, Mr. Berling had asked his manager to not throw him a birthday party at work as it could potentially result in a panic attack and bring back uncomfortable childhood memories.

Despite his plea, the company threw him a surprise birthday party in August 2019, triggering a panic attack and causing him to leave abruptly. But, his ordeal didn't end there.

The following day, Mr. Berling was confronted at a meeting and admonished for  "stealing his co-workers' joy" and "being a little girl". This encounter induced another panic attack following which he was sent home and unceremoniously fired days later.

Mr. Berling’s lawsuit alleged that the company had discriminated against him because of a disability and treated him unfairly for asking to be accommodated for it.  After a two day trial in March 2022, Mr. Berling was awarded $450,000 by a jury, including $300,000 for emotional distress and $150,000 in lost wages.

While the company continues to deny any wrongdoing and is moving to file an appeal, this judgement still makes us wonder– how are companies equipped to give out such large amounts as compensatory damages?

Through Liability Insurance policies!

A Directors and Officers (D&O) Insurance policy, for instance, covers acts of negligence or misconduct made by a manager that result in bodily injury, illness, or harm. With the help of this policy, the company can pay for legal expenses and court ordered damages to the claimant.

Policies like this not only safeguard the business’s financial standing but also ensure that claimants are fully paid their due compensation.

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Further Reading

Learn more: What is D&O Insurance?