A former employee with the Georgia Southern University athletic department has filed a lawsuit against the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia specifying actions taken by the Georgia Southern football program.
On March 11, 2019, Video Coordinator Chris Ball was terminated from his employment with the team and is challenging the circumstances of his dismissal in a suit filed in January in the Atlanta Division of the Northern District Court of Georgia.
In October 2018, Ball underwent surgery to amputate a foot, followed by a medical leave that lasted until Jan. 6, 2019. According to Ball’s attorney, Kirby Smith of The Kirby G. Smith Law Firm of Atlanta, Ball claims that the team changed demands of his job description following his return. Smith informed the Herald of the lawsuit last week and emailed a copy of the lawsuit at the Herald’s request.
Specifically, Ball claims that Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford told him he would be required to be on the field while filming practices, which he outlines in the suit that he was not required to do previously.
Ball came to Georgia Southern in 2013. Prior to his firing, he oversaw a small group of video production assistants and was in charge of compiling video shot from practices and games, as well as entering and logging the data from film into the team’s comprehensive video system to be used for review and highlights. Ball had previously been a part of video coordinator staffs at Georgia State, Yale, Furman, Eastern Michigan and his alma mater, West Virginia.
Ball claims that prior to his return from medical leave he had not been required to work on the field by Georgia Southern. He informed Lunsford that, due to being bound to a wheelchair, such duties would be difficult to carry out. Ball’s complaint states that he was told to “figure it out,” and that in the second week of February he went to a human resources representative with the university to address the situation.
Following the meeting with human resources, the complaint states that both Ball and Lunsford were informed by human resources that Ball could not be forced to work on the field. Ball was fired about a month later.
Following his departure from Georgia Southern, Ball took up his complaint with the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission and received a Notice of Right to Sue from the federal organization.
In following with the process of an EEOC lawsuit, Ball and his attorney have received a response from Georgia Southern. However, the initial response by the university will remain sealed until the suit progresses further in the legal process.
When reached for comment, representatives for both Georgia Southern football and Georgia Southern University acknowledged the existence of the lawsuit. The representatives declined to speak on the matter, citing that it is the university’s stance to decline comment on any ongoing legal matter.
Ball’s lawsuit demands from the Regents and Georgia Southern “full back pay plus interest, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, and costs in accordance with the American Disabilities Act to exceed $25,000; and any other relief this Court deems proper and just.”
The Herald will update specifics of the case as they become available.