I can’t make this stuff up.
The former Zamboni driver for a professional hockey team claims that the team unlawfully fired him based on his age (68) and disability (benign prostatic hypertrophy, which causes a frequent and uncontrollable need to urinate).
Unfortunately for the plaintiff, a rather startling admission may sink his case before discovery.
According to multiple published reports, including this one from Ted Kulfman at The Detroit News, the former Zamboni driver “admitted to urinating Feb. 2 into one of the arena’s drains that leads into a sewer designed to handle ice runoff from Zamboni machines.” Apparently, another Zamboni driver turned him in, and management investigated, met, and fired the plaintiff.
Based on the plaintiff’s revelation, I foresee a few problems for him.
First, at least one court has concluded that having to pee uncontrollably is not a “disability.” However, that case, which involved a unique set of facts and some poor pleading, is probably an outlier.
The bigger problem for the Zamboni driver is that the defendant probably had a no-peeing-in-the-arena-drains rule — or an unspoken one that it could reasonably expect to enforce.
And speaking of reasonable, even if management knew of his bladder issues, I’d be surprised if the plaintiff requested an accommodation to use the arena drains instead of the toilet or if the employer otherwise relaxed the standard bathroom rules.
Instead, the employer seems to have a non-pretextual legitimate business reason for firing the Zamboni driver.
I sympathize with an employee who lost his job after 51 years with the team — a jury may, too — but this case doesn’t sound like it will survive a motion to dismiss the complaint.