Former White Sox Trainer Brian Ball Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Team

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 11, 2022

TORONTO, ON - MAY 12: James McCann #33 of the Chicago White Sox is tended to by assistant athletic trainer Brian Ball after absorbing a foul tip in the mid-section in the seventh inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 12, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Former Chicago White Sox athletic trainer Brian Ball filed a lawsuit against the MLB franchise on Tuesday alleging his employment was terminated in October 2020 because of discrimination against his sexual orientation, age and disability.

The Athletic reported the civil suit alleges the White Sox violated the Illinois Human Rights Act and have caused Ball to suffer from severe mental anguish and emotional distress. He's seeking punitive and monetary damages. The club has denied the allegations.

"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 team said. "It is also surprising to many who know Brian, and supported him throughout his career, to read the allegations included in his lawsuit."

The lawsuit states Ball, a 20-year employee of the White Sox, is gay and that it became known to "multiple members" of the organization in February 2018, per The Athletic.

In December 2018, he was promoted to head athletic trainer following the retirement Herm Schneider. He signed a two-year contract extension in October 2019.

The lawsuit notes the club shifted him to a new role, director for the care of players, in February 2020 and urged him to take a leave of absence after being attacked during a carjacking in July 2020.

Ball alleges that, while he was away from the team, general manager Rick Hahn suggested to other members of the staff the trainer "had either a gambling, alcohol or drug addiction that was related to the July carjacking," according to The Athletic.

"None of those accusations were or are true," Ball's lawsuit states.

Ball said the club denied him an opportunity to return after recovering from the attack, and he added that he heard from someone in the organization two months after his termination the decision was based on his sexual orientation.

The White Sox said he was fired "based on his performance," per The Athletic.

Chicago then promoted James Kruk to head athletic trainer. He'd served as an assistant to Ball for the previous two years (2019-20).