DES MOINES, Iowa — Scott Kerr’s more than three-decade career as head athletic trainer at Drake University is over.
“I was offered a one-month severance package for 31 years of service, and under the circumstances of my dismissal, I feel that is not adequate,” said Kerr.
Kerr and his attorneys, Roxanne Conlin and Jerry Crawford, have filed a formal complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
“This is illegal. It is illegal to terminate someone because they have a medical condition. Our own former Senator Tom Harkin was the guiding force to change the law on the federal level and also on the state level,” said employment attorney Roxanne Conlin. “That makes this kind of conduct illegal. You just can`t do it,” said Conlin.
61-year-old Kerr says his medical condition requires him to drink large amounts of water to stay hydrated. Kerr says he was diagnosed in 2010 with neurally mediated syncope. Kerr also says he has an enlarged prostate, due to his age. As a result of both of those factors, Kerr says he experiences frequent urges to urinate.
That all came to a head on August 29, when Kerr was working alone over the noon hour in the training room.
“He was cleaning out a metal whirlpool (tub) and using it to rinse dirty containers when he had a sudden urge to urinate,” said attorney Jerry Crawford of Crawford Mauro Law Firm. “He was alone in the training room and urinated in the tank, rather than on the floor, knowing he would not be able to make it to a restroom,” said Crawford.
Crawford says Kerr then scoured the tub using Soft Scrub and bleach.
Kerr says when he discussed the incident a few days later with his then boss, Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield-Clubb, she told him that he had made the wrong decision. “On September 1, I met with the Athletic Director and a representative from Human Resources (assistant HR director, Cindy Adams), expecting to get support for my condition. However, I was made to feel more embarrassed and humiliated,” said Kerr.
“The Athletic Director recounted a story where she herself urinated in her pants in an airport while on Drake business and told me I should have done the same thing,” said Kerr. “When I heard that story I was very confused, embarrassed, and I didn’t know quite how to react to that story,” said Kerr.
“The Athletic Director said to Scott that if he had urinated in his pants instead of in a metal container, he would still be there because that’s what she did at an airport,” said Crawford. “That’s as shocking as anything in this case,” he said.
Kerr was fired on September 2. “What I was told was…my decision to urinate in the whirlpool made me unfit and not capable of making decisions for the student-athlete,” said Kerr.
Kerr’s attorneys do plan on moving forward with litigation following the review of the complaint by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
When contacted for reaction, Drake University said it does not comment on personnel matters or issues pending before the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.