A Kentucky jury’s recent finding underscores how important it is to listen to employee’s needs, after office workers threw a birthday party for an employee who had asked them to skip the celebration. A lab technician working for Covington-based Gravity Diagnostics asked his manager not to throw the party because of his social anxiety. While the manager was absent, fellow workers went ahead with the plans, which proved disastrous.
Days after the party, the employee was confronted for his “somber behavior” by supervisors and three days later was fired via email because he had displayed violent behavior, allegedly, during a panic attack brought on by the confrontation.
The technician brought a suit against the company and a jury awarded him $450,000 in lost wages and mental damages. The company plans to challenge the ruling on several legal grounds, but regardless of outcome, this is an important reminder to listen to the wishes of employees, especially when employees are sharing the mental health bases for their requests. Such open-minded attitudes and awareness of the consequences of disability discrimination usually lead to less strife and more equity in the long-run.