clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Former White Sox trainer sues for discrimination

Brian Ball seeks declaratory, punitive, and monetary damages after unlawful firing.

Chicago White Sox

Former White Sox trainer Brian Ball, 50, is suing the organization for an alleged unlawful termination in October 2020 because of his sexual orientation, age, and disability. He is seeking declaratory, punitive, and monetary damages to be determined.

In a team statement, the White Sox described Ball’s allegations as “baseless” and promised to vigorously defend the organization’s reputation. The White Sox also said Ball’s dismissal “was based on his performance and did not run afoul of any of the protections afforded to employees under the law.”

Timeline

  • 2000: Ball was hired by the White Sox to work as an assistant alongside Herm Schneider, which includes working with the team during its championship season in 2005.
  • December 2018: Ball was promoted to head athletic trainer when Schneider announced his retirement.
  • February 2020: It became known to White Sox management, including executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn, that Ball is gay. Ball was told that he “should not be giving any treatments to the players, but directing the other trainers to do so,” according to the lawsuit.
  • July 17, 2020: Ball was a victim of a violent carjacking in Chicago. After being assessed, Hahn requested that Ball go on medical leave and see a psychotherapist before returning to work. Ball was cleared on Aug. 28, 2020, to return, but the front office pushed back and denied Ball’s request to return to work.
  • Oct. 26, 2020: Ball received a separation agreement stating his final day would be Oct. 31, 2020. Ball received a severance package identical to the salary he would receive once his contract ended in October 2021.
  • December 2020: Ball alleges he was contacted by a “White Sox management level representative” and was told his termination was because of his sexual orientation, based on a “knowledgeable White Sox senior management representative disclosure,” according to the lawsuit.
  • January 2021: James Kruk, 38, was promoted from assistant trainer to head trainer after Ball was let go.

What’s next?

So where does that put the White Sox? The team claims to be unified against discrimination in any form, and supports anti-discrimination laws that protect those wronged by an employer.

Liam and Kristi Hendriks come to mind, among a team full of stand-up players. The couple tends to spearhead Pride Month for the team, giving back to the community. Just last June, they hosted a dinner and happy hour for Center on Halsted, the largest LGBTQIA+ center in Chicago. Kristi also works to spread more awareness and acceptance.

In a league full of Rainbow Capitalism, it seemed as though the White Sox did more than just put out a rainbow Pride Night shirt.

Liam and Kristi also have made differences with minority-owned small businesses, and fed frontline workers at the start of spring training and throughout the season. Liam was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award during the 2021 season.

While everything is alleged at the moment, it would certainly be disheartening to learn about the treatment Ball claims to have received from the White Sox during his 20 years of service — especially after seeing what players and the organization do for charities and communities throughout Chicago.

Hahn and Williams still have their jobs, and players or other members within the White Sox organization have not commented.

This story is still developing, but will be updated as needed.