Former assistant trainer Brian Ball walks with ex-Sox pitcher Bobby Jenks off the mound during a spring-training game in 2007 in Tucson, Ariz.
M. Spencer Green/AP
Brian Ball, a 20-year employee of the White Sox and former head athletic trainer, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Sox and general manager Rick Hahn, claiming he was unlawfully fired on Oct. 31, 2020, because of his sexual orientation, age and disability. He also claims he was defamed by the team and suffered emotional distress.
Ball, 50, was a 20-year employee of the White Sox who served as their assistant trainer during the team’s 2005 World Series title run and was promoted to head trainer in 2018, replacing Herm Schneider, who was MLB’s longest-tenured trainer.
“The Chicago White Sox organization categorically denies the baseless allegations made by former Head Trainer Brian Ball in his lawsuit against the club,” the Sox said in a statement Tuesday night.
Ball, who was selected as an assistant athletic trainer for the 2011 All-Star Game, was fired at the end of the 2020 season, the lawsuit states.
The suit states the Sox, including vice president Ken Williams, Hahn and players, learned Bal was a homosexual in February 2018.
The suit says Ball was the victim of a carjacking on July 17, 2020. After meeting with police, Ball went to the ballpark to be checked by a team physician. The next day, the suit says, Hahn told Ball he was being placed on medical leave and would need to see a psychologist as part of his conditions to return to work.
By Aug. 28, Ball says he was released by his personal psychologist to return to work. The suit claims that release to return to work was denied by the Sox. The suit says that in September 2020, Hahn made statements to other athletic training staff that Ball had either a gambling, drug or alcohol addiction that was related to the carjacking. The suit states that none of those accusations are true.
By late October, Ball was told by Hahn he was being terminated and no explanation was given, the suit says..
On Oct. 27, the day after Ball was notified he had been fired, the Sox presented Ball with a separation agreement, the suit says. The Sox advised Ball that if he didn’t sign and return the agreement by the first week of November, he would lose out on the entire agreement, the suit claims.
Ball returned a signed agreement on Nov. 7, 2020, the suit says.
But Ball’s suit claims an “Individual A” — a “White Sox management-level representative” — contacted him on Dec. 27, 2020, and claimed the termination was based on his sexual orientation, the suit says.
The suit says the Sox replaced Ball with “a less-qualified, non-disabled, non-homosexual male under 40 years of age.
“It is extremely disappointing that a former colleague, who was supported, developed and promoted over two decades, chose to attack the club in this way,” the Sox’ statement Tuesday said. “It is also surprising to many who know Brian, and supported him …read more
Source:: Chicago Sun Times
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