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The W - Pro Wrestling - Raven's WWE Lawsuit Update
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geemoney
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Since: 26.1.03
From: Naples, FL

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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.13
Was gonna add this on to the other thread, but saw that it was locked.....

The two other guys in Raven's lawsuit against WWE have been named: Mike Sanders (who was stuck in developmental after he was one of the few WWE brought over from WCW) and Chris Kanyon.

The lawsuit (in PDF form) can be found here:

http://www.ctemploymentlawblog.com/uploads/file/wwe.pdf

Any lawyers out there want to take a stab at whether this case has legs?

Promote this thread!
BigDaddyLoco
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Since: 2.1.02

Since last post: 1 hour
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.53
I wouldn't be against Raven, the guy seems to know his shit.

On a somewhat different note the fact that the WWE didn't get Kanyon over in some way or another is one of the biggest letdowns in wrestling.
thecubsfan
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Moderator








Since: 10.12.01
From: Aurora, IL

Since last post: 16 hours
Last activity: 1 hour
#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 10.00
It'd be an interesting case if it ever went to trial, but that's a long way and lots of money away. I'd guess the best way to see how worried WWE is about this is if they try changing things for current employees independent contractors in the meantime.



thecubsfan.com - luchablog
odessasteps
Scrapple








Since: 2.1.02
From: MD, USA

Since last post: 129 days
Last activity: 96 days
#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.42

brief mention about the story in this law website article about Jerry McDevitt.

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202424049133



Mark Coale
Odessa Steps Magazine
The Affirmation, Baby Blog
CruelAngel777
Frankfurter








Since: 7.4.02

Since last post: 10 hours
Last activity: 57 min.
#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.60
This is kind of a off topic.

I'm thinking of going to Raven's wrestling school in a few months, I'm wondering if it's a good idea now that he's putting a lawsuit against the company I want to end up in one day.
Mr. Boffo
Scrapple








Since: 24.3.02
From: Oshkosh, WI

Since last post: 453 days
Last activity: 414 days
#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.12
IANAL
First of all, WWE is seeking to have the case moved from Connecticut State Court to Federal Court. They claim that a lot of these issues depend on analysis of Federal payroll laws.

The things that they claim WWE is in control of includes some interesting things:



    * defendant determines the wrestlers' physical training regimen;
    * defendant determines the wrestlers' skill training regimen;

    Apparently WWE can decide that you aren't allowed to exercise, or to force you exercise? How do they explain Big Daddy the Fifth then?


    * defendant determines who the wrestlers compete with and against, the duration of each match, and the outcome of each match;
    * defendant has the right to require that the wrestlers wrestle in a team and has the right to choose the co-workers for such a team;
    * defendant determines the costumes and hairstyles that the wrestlers' wear and has the right to require the use of company costumes and and performance props;
    * defendant determines the wrestlers' stage persona and the specific traits of that persona, and further determines the mannerisms that the wrestlers use while performing and what signature moves and props the wrestlers use and when they may use them;
    * defendant requires the wrestlers to adhere to certain story lines, including specific dialogue of the requisite pre- and post-match boasting and badmouthing of the wrestlers' opponent(s);
    * defendant has the right to use the wrestlers' likeness or image in perpetuity;

    If you classify the WWE as non-union live television show, none of this sounds out of line. TV actors can't necessarily decide that they're just going to ad-lib their lines, or change the outcome of a particular episode, or decide what their character wears. Though I like imagining that they force you to have a certain haircut and costume, like they hold you down while forcibly dressing you.


The first count in question is Breach of Contract, which claims that there's a section of the booking agreement in which WWE agrees to pay "all withholding as required by law" (ie Federal and State Taxes, Social Security, Medicare, et cetera). The WWE says there's a section of the booking agreement which specifically states "all payments made to WRESTLER are in full without withholding, except where required by law. ... WRESTLER shall be responsible for payment of all of WRESTLER's own Federal, state or local income taxes; all social security, FICA and FUTA taxes ..."

The second count is for Unjust Enrichment, the idea being that WWE cheated its employees in a way that unfairly enriched its own bottom line.

The real issue is going to be whether they can prove that they are in fact employees.
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html details some of the factors in determining an employee.

    If you classify an employee as an independent contractor and you have no reasonable basis for doing so, you may be held liable for employment taxes for that worker.

This is a class action lawsuit (claiming as its members every independent contractor who worked with WWE since 2002), and it basically seeks the actual compensatory damages that are available under that provision. I guess workers would also be entitled to Worker's Compensation and Unemployment associated with their tenure as well.
hansen9j
Andouille








Since: 7.11.02
From: Riderville, SK

Since last post: 3 days
Last activity: 18 hours
#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.36
    Originally posted by Mr. Boffo


      * defendant determines the wrestlers' physical training regimen;
      * defendant determines the wrestlers' skill training regimen;

      Apparently WWE can decide that you aren't allowed to exercise, or to force you exercise? How do they explain Big Daddy the Fifth then?



Big Daddy V was pulled off TV until he lost weight, and then fired, presumably for not doing so.

I'm more familiar with the contractor/employee rules in Canada (where it would be an open-and-shut case), but from what I've seen of the US list, they should probably be employees. The key is not to take each rule as the golden rule, but to look for which one is leaned towards more, as well as the spirit of the rules.

(edited by hansen9j on 26.8.08 2054)


It is the policy of the documentary crew to remain true observers and not interfere with its subjects.

odessasteps
Scrapple








Since: 2.1.02
From: MD, USA

Since last post: 129 days
Last activity: 96 days
#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.42

This week on WOL, Lance Storm said something about how his accountant questioned the whole "independent contractor" thing when doing Lance's taxes.





Mark Coale
Odessa Steps Magazine
The Affirmation, Baby Blog
Peter The Hegemon
Lap cheong








Since: 11.2.03
From: Hackettstown, NJ

Since last post: 2 days
Last activity: 18 hours
#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.26
    Originally posted by Mr. Boffo
    IANAL

    If you classify the WWE as non-union live television show, none of this sounds out of line. TV actors can't necessarily decide that they're just going to ad-lib their lines, or change the outcome of a particular episode, or decide what their character wears.


Sure...but are such actors classified as independent contractors, or employees?
TheBucsFan
TheChiefsFan








Since: 2.1.02

Since last post: 74 days
Last activity: 74 days
#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.15
    Originally posted by Peter The Hegemon
      Originally posted by Mr. Boffo
      IANAL

      If you classify the WWE as non-union live television show, none of this sounds out of line. TV actors can't necessarily decide that they're just going to ad-lib their lines, or change the outcome of a particular episode, or decide what their character wears.


    Sure...but are such actors classified as independent contractors, or employees?


I know nothing about the laws governing this, but I would hope the important question is whether or not the producers of one TV show can forbid their actors from playing parts in other TV shows.
Lexus
Bierwurst








Since: 2.1.02
From: Stafford, VA

Since last post: 3 days
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AIM:  
#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.81
From what I gather, the case itself boils down to how taxes were handled. I work as an actor, and an independent contractor to boot. I can still be fired, just like an employee could, but if I burn down the hotel we work at the company isn't liable, I am.

Now if the WWE guys are having their taxes paid through the company and the forms they sign are W2s, they are employees. If they're recieving 1099 forms every quarter (and make over a set amount each quarter) and their taxes must be handled on their own, they are independent contractors.

Now it seems like many of the restrictions leveed towards the performers of the WWE by the management of the WWE would make the WWE a lousy place to work as a contractor, but if them's the ropes then them's the ropes. If you want to change the way the WWE is behaving, unionize. Put those SAG cards to work for something more than just the medical benefits they offer.



"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Frown and the world laughs at you."
-Me.
hansen9j
Andouille








Since: 7.11.02
From: Riderville, SK

Since last post: 3 days
Last activity: 18 hours
#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.36
    Originally posted by Lexus
    Now if the WWE guys are having their taxes paid through the company and the forms they sign are W2s, they are employees. If they're recieving 1099 forms every quarter (and make over a set amount each quarter) and their taxes must be handled on their own, they are independent contractors.


But since it's always cheaper for a company to treat employees as contractors (because of payroll taxes, etc.), EVERYONE would use the 1099 forms. That's why the IRS has the rules in place to determine if they should be employees or contractors. W2s vs. 1099s comes AFTER that decision; it doesn't make that decision.



It is the policy of the documentary crew to remain true observers and not interfere with its subjects.

Lise
Mrs. Guru








Since: 11.12.01

Since last post: 421 days
Last activity: 43 days
#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.18
Based on what the IRS says, here are the specific things that at least in my mind would indicate an employee/employer relationship in this case. This reminds me a bit of the Microsoft perma-temps in some ways. The nail in the coffin for that one, was that they kept employee reviews on their temps. I think that WWE in effect keeps their "contractors" from offering their services to the market, in addition to all the other things may seal this one.

From: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html


Types of Instructions Given

An employee is generally subject to the business’s instructions about when, where, and how to work. All of the following are examples of types of instructions about how to do work.

When and where to do the work.
What tools or equipment to use.
What workers to hire or to assist with the work.
Where to purchase supplies and services.
What work must be performed by a specified individual.
What order or sequence to follow when performing the work.
Degree of Instruction

Degree of Instruction means that the more detailed the instructions, the more control the business exercises over the worker. More detailed instructions indicate that the worker is an employee. Less detailed instructions reflects less control, indicating that the worker is more likely an independent contractor.

Note: The amount of instruction needed varies among different jobs. Even if no instructions are given, sufficient behavioral control may exist if the employer has the right to control how the work results are achieved. A business may lack the knowledge to instruct some highly specialized professionals; in other cases, the task may require little or no instruction. The key consideration is whether the business has retained the right to control the details of a worker's performance or instead has given up that right.

Evaluation System

If an evaluation system measures the details of how the work is performed, then these factors would point to an employee.

If the evaluation system measures just the end result, then this can point to either an independent contractor or an employee.

Training

If the business provides the worker with training on how to do the job, this indicates that the business wants the job done in a particular way. This is strong evidence that the worker is an employee. Periodic or on-going training about procedures and methods is even stronger evidence of an employer-employee relationship. However, independent contractors ordinarily use their own methods.



Services available to the market

An independent contractor is generally free to seek out business opportunities. Independent contractors often advertise, maintain a visible business location, and are available to work in the relevant market.


Permanency of the Relationship

If you hire a worker with the expectation that the relationship will continue indefinitely, rather than for a specific project or period, this is generally considered evidence that the intent was to create an employer-employee relationship.

Services Provided as Key Activity of the Business

If a worker provides services that are a key aspect of the business, it is more likely that the business will have the right to direct and control his or her activities. For example, if a law firm hires an attorney, it is likely that it will present the attorney’s work as its own and would have the right to control or direct that work. This would indicate an employer-employee relationship.

Mike Zeidler
Pepperoni








Since: 27.6.02

Since last post: 73 days
Last activity: 33 days
#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.21
Producers can't forbid an actor from appearing on another TV show. Take Karen from The Office for example. She was supposed to have a larger role in the 07/08 season, but decided to take a pilot offer from Fox instead.

I think the big question is does WWE treat its wrestlers like it does its freelance camera, pyrotechnic, and stagehands for, say Wrestlemania?

If a wrestler accidentally hurts a fan during the course of the match, WWE handles any kind of legal proceedings, but when the fireworks mishap took place at 'Mania this year, they had the pyrotechnics company handle the suits and settlements.



"Tattoos are the mullets of the aughts." - Mike Naimark
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