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Lawsuit reveals long-time Red Wings Zamboni driver fired for peeing into drain

·1-min read

A lawsuit filed in Michigan’s Wayne County Circuit Court has revealed that former Detroit Red Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka was fired for peeing into a drain at Little Caesars Arena in February.

The lawsuit alleges the 68-year-old was discriminated against based on his age and disability, violating Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, the Detroit Free Press reported on Wednesday.

According to his lawyers, the disability that Sobotka suffers from is benign prostatic hypertrophy, which causes frequent and uncontrollable needs to urinate.

The alleged infraction occurred on Feb. 2, when a fellow male employee found Sobotka urinating into a drain in the arena’s Zamboni garage after cleaning the ice rink. The drains in the garage lead into the sewer and are meant to handle the ice runoff from the machines. The nearest bathroom is reportedly 60-70 feet away, so Sobotka felt he had no choice but to relieve himself into the drain.

Al Sobotka was terminated in February after spending 51 years working with the Detroit Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
Al Sobotka was terminated in February after spending 51 years working with the Detroit Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Two days later, Sobotka met with his supervisor and a human resources representative and was suspended for a week. He was officially terminated on Feb. 17.

Sobotka and his legal team are seeking compensatory damages.

Sobotka began working on the cleanup crew at Olympia Stadium, the Detroit Red Wings’ first home arena, in 1971 as a 17-year-old. He then worked his way up the ladder, also spending time as building operations manager at Cobo Hall, the former home of the Detroit Pistons, before moving into an office at the famous Joe Louis Arena.

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