A veteran Pittsburgh-area boys basketball coach has filed suit against the school district where he worked, claiming that he was fired unlawfully, in violation of the state’s whistleblower statutes.
Don Porter, the former Mt. Pleasant Area basketball coach, claims that he was fired after he made multiple complaints to school officials about his treatment at the hand of longtime school board member Warren Leeder, whom he claimed harassed him over both coaching performance and an injury claim.
Both of Porter’s claims are apparently tied into a condition that has left him with diabetic nerve damage in his legs. That forces him to wear a leg brace, which in turn made him more susceptible to falls during inclement weather.
Per the Tribune Review, the issues between Porter and Leeder began in January after a particularly cold day.
… the problems with Leeder began Jan. 8, 2018, when he slipped on ice in the school parking lot after attending a girls’ basketball game. He mentioned the incident to athletic director Allan Bilinsky “to let the custodians know that salt could be placed on the school walkways.”
Porter subsequently filed a worker’s compensation claim that was approved by the school district, but he alleges Leeder also began repeatedly harassing him.
“What the hell are you doing trying to get the janitors in trouble?’,” Porter quoted Leeder as telling him on Jan. 29, according to the lawsuit.
A few days later on Feb. 12, Porter alleges that Leeder again “berated” him as he headed to the locker room with his team that lost by two points to Yough High School.
“…you blew a big lead… no heart, you’re terrible’,” Porter alleges Leeder told him, according to the lawsuit.
Those interactions set the stage for what Porter described as persistent harassment, which in turn inspired complaints from Porter about his treatment. He was fired not long thereafter, following the team’s 4-20 finish to the 2017-18 season.
While a case could be made that Porter was fired for performance, given the team’s struggles, his lawyer claims that the dismissal was a violation of the federal Rehabilitation Act because of his condition.
For his trouble, Porter is seeking both damages and his former position back. No sense of the case’s timing has emerged as of yet.