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"Now They Owe Him $450K": A Man Won A Lawsuit Over An Office Birthday Party, And It's The Talk Of All Of Twitter

"No one wants your party, Janet!"

A Kentucky man who was fired for having a panic attack during his office birthday party recently won a lawsuit of $450,000. The man requested his co-workers NOT throw him a party because of his anxiety, but they did it anyway.

On Twitter, many people are saying that they hope this case gives employers 450,000 reasons to really take workers' mental health seriously.

@tieshatwo @surlybassey Sorry he had to go through this but workplaces need to understand mental issues are real. Maybe $450k will help them understand a little better.

Twitter: @abenyola

And others zeroed in on the most frustrating details of the story, like this rage-inducing example. According to reports, the employee was accused of "stealing other coworkers' joy" when he turned down the party.

@tieshatwo It was reading these parts that did it for me. “Stealing other co-workers’ joy” “Workplace violence” “As an employer who puts our employees first” “My employees were the victims” So you placed your other employees’ ego and “morale” over your employee with disabilities. Welp

Twitter: @_chrisaries

Some people who have anxiety are sharing how betrayed and panicked they would have felt in his shoes. A panic attack can feel like you're literally dying of dread, so it's really not worth putting someone through that level of pain just because you wanted to have a little cake.

A comment that says, "I have social anxiety," and that their nightmare is a party where they're the center of attention

And since talking about mental health at work is still not totally normalized, bosses and coworkers really need to learn to respect it when people open up about what they need.

Commenters talking about how and why someone with anxiety might not be comfortable with something

Others pointed out that some people have deeply personal or even religious reasons for not wanting to celebrate their birthdays, and people should respect their wishes.

@tieshatwo My friend at work did not want birthday parties because her father died on her birthday. For years we respected her wishes, until one big shot was hired who always had to be the center of attention with his gifts and favors, who threw her parties every year she was there.

Twitter: @Chriswb71

People also discussed reasons why some jobs insist on throwing personal celebrations for employees.

@queen_temitayo A lot of jobs do things like this to make you more comfortable in the work place bc it’s easier to exploit your labor that way. Like it’s a good thing to like your workplace but the motives behind that are not what people think they are.

Twitter: @tieshatwo

Others shared their own frustrating stories about workplaces not listening to their perfectly reasonable preferences.

@tieshatwo Workplaces NEED to listen to their workers. I once had a training etc. said to them I prefer grabbing my own lunch from the nearby shops. They insisted on getting me something that didn’t even taste good at the end. I lost so much respect for them. Let people be

Twitter: @lolatiffhur

And there were so many more infuriating stories, like this HR person who thought it would be just fine to make a Christian holiday party mandatory for all.

@tieshatwo We had a HR gal from OH who told us we were going to have a Christmas Party and it was going to be mandatory. When I reminded her we had a significant number of Jewish, Hindi and Muslim people and maybe we call it a “Holiday”, she got very upset and said “they’ll get over it.”

Twitter: @randy_otto

And this person who actually sought a new job to escape a work birthday celebration.

@tieshatwo I so appreciate this story. I once had a supervisor who said everyone was going to be required to celebrate their birthdays. I said I’m not doing that. She said everyone will. I had a new job 2 months before my birthday!

Twitter: @smbrnjd

And this deeply inhumane manager who got mad at an employee for having an actual seizure.

Comment saying that their manager got mad at an employee for having a seizure

And this walking big yikes of a boss who couldn't understand why a minimum wage worker might not want to spend their money on a secret Santa present.

A comment saying that their manager got mad that they didn't want to participate in secret Santa because they didn't have much money and were pregnant

TL;DR? Respect people's boundaries, and believe them when they raise mental health concerns. Being listened to and truly respected feels better than a million office birthday parties combined. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.