Former Chicago White Sox head athletic trainer Brian Ball on Monday filed a lawsuit in Cook County against the team and general manager Rick Hahn, alleging unlawful termination in October 2020 because of his sexual orientation, age and disability.
Ball, 50, worked with the Sox for 20 seasons — including serving as a member of the training staff for the 2005 World Series championship team — and was promoted to head trainer in December 2018.
He is seeking declaratory, punitive and monetary damages to be determined. According to the lawsuit, Ball is “no longer employed … as a certified athletic 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 released Tuesday. “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. It is also surprising to many who know Brian, and supported him throughout his career, to read the allegations included in his lawsuit.”
According to the lawsuit, in February 2018 it became known to White Sox management, including executive vice president Ken Williams and Hahn, coaches and medical staff that Ball is gay.
Ball was the victim of a carjacking on July 17, 2020, according to the lawsuit, and soon after was placed on medical leave. The lawsuit states Ball was told he would need to see a psychologist as part of the conditions for his return to work. Ball received medical clearance Aug. 28, according to the lawsuit, but his request to return was denied.
Ball’s lawsuit alleges Hahn in September 2020 “made continuous statements to other athletic training-strength conditional personnel that Brian Ball had either a gambling, alcohol or drug addiction that was related to the July carjacking. None of those accusations were or are true.”
On Oct. 26, according to the lawsuit, Ball was told he was being fired and received a separation agreement the next day with an Oct. 31 termination date. Ball signed the separation agreement on Nov. 7, 2020, according to the lawsuit.
Ball’s lawsuit states that on Dec. 27 a “White Sox management-level representative” contacted Ball and that “based on a knowledgeable White Sox senior management representative disclosure, (Ball’s) termination … was based on his sexual orientation.”
“The Chicago White Sox are unified against discrimination in any form and support anti-discrimination laws that provide protection to those wronged by an employer,” the Sox said in part of their statement. “Those laws are essential to protecting anyone who has been victimized by discrimination and to creating a culture of empowerment and opportunity for all individuals. Brian’s dismissal from the organization was based on his performance and did not run afoul of any of the protections afforded to employees under the law.”
James Kruk was promoted to head athletic trainer in January 2021.