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31.10.14 0043
The W - Pro Wrestling - WWE's "Independent Contractor" status being looked into
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StaggerLee
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Since: 3.10.02
From: Right side of the tracks

Since last post: 4 hours
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.63
From Rajah.com

The Connecticut Post is reporting WWE is being audited by officials from the state of Connecticut for classifying its wrestlers and other staff production talent as independent contractors.

WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman blamed the increased scrutiny on Linda McMahon's run for United States Senate in an email to the publication, stating:

"Up until this election, WWE has not been fined nor investigated in the past for independent contractor classification. However, curiously the state of Connecticut is currently conducting an audit of WWE's classification of independent contractors. WWE constantly reviews its internal practices and procedures to comply with ever-changing employee laws."

Several years ago, former WWE wrestlers Mike Sanders, Raven and the now deceased Kanyon filed a lawsuit against WWE arguing their independent contractor classification from their WWE contracts. The lawsuit was dismissed.
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InVerse
Bierwurst








Since: 26.8.02

Since last post: 13 hours
Last activity: 4 hours
#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.96
Personally, I think it's about time. If the final determination is that wrestlers should be treated as employees, then all of the other BS that has stemmed from Linda McMahon's Senatorial campaign will have been worth it.

For what it's worth, Raven, Sanders & Kanyon's lawsuit was dismissed because they didn't file until after they were no longer WWE talent and the judge ruled that for the lawsuit to have any validity, it would need to be filed at the time of employment.
Amos Cochran
Lap cheong








Since: 28.8.09

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.86
It's pretty shitty to rule that a lawsuit can only have merit if you're risking losing your job to file it.

I think this domino might finally fall in the next coupla years. WWE employees here we come.
ekedolphin
Scrapple








Since: 12.1.02
From: Indianapolis, IN; now residing in Suffolk, VA

Since last post: 134 days
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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.76
If I understand the significance of this correctly, this would mean that WWE employees would have the right to unionize, and to earn pensions and company-paid health insurance, right?



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StingArmy
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Since: 3.5.03
From: Georgia bred, you can tell by my Hawk jersey

Since last post: 26 days
Last activity: 3 days
#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.45
    Originally posted by ekedolphin
    If I understand the significance of this correctly, this would mean that WWE employees would have the right to unionize, and to earn pensions and company-paid health insurance, right?

Not to mention WWE being liable for unpaid employment tax, or at least employment taxes going forward.

(I think.)

- StingArmy
Rudoublesedoublel
Potato korv








Since: 2.1.02
From: Kentucky - Home of the 8 time NCAA Champ Wildcats

Since last post: 19 hours
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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.26
    Originally posted by StingArmy
      Originally posted by ekedolphin
      If I understand the significance of this correctly, this would mean that WWE employees would have the right to unionize, and to earn pensions and company-paid health insurance, right?

    Not to mention WWE being liable for unpaid employment tax, or at least employment taxes going forward.

    (I think.)

    - StingArmy


I don't know what you mean by "employment tax" (unless you're referring to FICA), but I would assume that as independent contractors the wrestlers receive 1099's at the end of the year instead of W-2's and that as part of the result they file their taxes as self-employed persons and must pay the self-employment tax. (Pure guessing here, not an accountant, but have done taxes with 1099s in the past.) IF I'm right, and IF wrestlers became employees, they would pick up a few extra dollars because of that difference.



"I'm on my time with everyone." - Kurt Cobain
TheBucsFan
TheChiefsFan








Since: 2.1.02

Since last post: 80 days
Last activity: 80 days
#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.46
    Originally posted by StaggerLee
    From Rajah.com

    The Connecticut Post is reporting


Hey! How about a link straight to the source then? (Or a link at all?)

Click here:

WWE: State auditing company for misclassification of employees
Brian Lockhart, Staff Writer

While U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon has been touting her business prowess building and running Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment, the state has been auditing the company to determine if WWE cut costs by improperly using independent contractors in and out of the ring.

"As far as I know, all of the (worker) classifications have been correct or if not they were brought to WWE's attention," McMahon, who resigned as CEO from her family's company in September, said Tuesday in New Haven. "Any kind of audit, a tax audit or whatever ... if you made a mistake you change it or if it's fine you leave it."

McMahon, who is financing her bid for the Senate, said she was unaware WWE was the target of a state audit, confirmed Tuesday morning in an e-mail to Hearst Connecticut Newspapers by a company spokesman.

Federal and state officials have been cracking down on companies that misclassify regular employees as independent contractors, often to avoid paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes for those individuals.

"Although misclassification can happen inadvertently, it is more often used to circumvent the law," reads a fact sheet from Connecticut's two-year-old Joint Enforcement Commission on Employee Misclassification.

In May, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed legislation that increases fines for misuse of independent contractors from $300 per incident to $300 a day beginning Oct. 1. It is now potentially a felony.

In response to those who have criticized WWE for not offering its wrestlers health insurance, McMahon has argued the company's stars are independent contractors. But WWE also employs at any given time around 350 independent contractors behind the scenes, including models, photographers and film unit publicists, a company official said in an earlier interview.

Asked whether WWE has ever been the target of state or federal misclassification probes, spokesman Robert Zimmerman in an e-mail Tuesday morning said: "WWE has always complied with the law. Up until this election, WWE has not been fined or investigated in the past for independent contractor classification. However, curiously the state of Connecticut is currently conducting an audit of WWE's classification of independent contractors. WWE constantly reviews its internal practices and procedures to comply with ever-changing employee laws."


More at the link.

Also:

Why won’t WWE provide two important details about state audit?
September 15, 2010 at 9:21 pm by Brian Lockhart

Yesterday our newspapers reported Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment is being audited by the state for worker misclassification – treating some independent contractors as full or part-timers but using their independent status to avoid paying certain taxes/benefits like healthcare.

As the New York Times reported back in February, Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration and more than two dozen states, including Connecticut, have stepped up enforcement, fearing companies during tough financial times are skirting labor laws to cut costs.

Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, who resigned from her job running the family company last September to focus on her self-funded bid for U.S. Senate, has been criticized on the campaign trail by both Democrats and some fellow Republicans for mistreatment of talent. WWE wrestlers are classified as independent contractors, as are around 350 behind-the-scenes employees.

So last Friday I asked WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman if the company would reveal if it has ever been investigated for worker misclassification by either state or federal officials?

Tuesday morning Zimmerman issued the following statement, which we previously reported: “WWE has always complied with the law. Up until this election, WWE has not been fined nor investigated in the past for independent contractor classification. However, curiously the state of Connecticut is currently conducting an audit of WWE’s classification of independent contractors. WWE constantly reviews its internal practices and procedures to comply with ever-changing employee laws. The average WWE performer earns more than $550,000 annually, while only wrestling less than three days per week. WWE covers 100 percent of all costs associated with any in-ring related injuries and rehabilitation.”

I blogged more about the audit here and you can read my actual report, which included a reaction from McMahon, here.

While the company was willing to make the audit public, WWE is withholding two crucial details – which state agency is in charge of the audit and when did company officials learn the probe was launched?

Why won’t they provide that information?

I asked Zimmerman and he said the company is not commenting further on the audit.

I’m certainly not directing this post at Zimmerman, who is doing his job and helps when he can.

But the folks running WWE and calling the shots about what information is provided and not provided the press/public are no fools. Linda’s husband, Vince, fought the federal government and media mogul Ted Turner and won.

So Zimmerman’s Tuesday e-mail was carefully crafted to reveal some information but also to raise questions about the timing and source of the audit that the company should be able to answer.

McMahon’s Democratic opponent is long-time state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has been involved in efforts to strengthen the penalties for worker misclassification.

Blumenthal’s office on Tuesday said it is not involved in any audit of WWE. And my understanding of the process is he won’t be unless the agencies that typically conduct such probes – the departments of labor and/or revenue services – conclude WWE is guilty of something and seek to enforce the law/impose penalties.

But the departments of labor and revenue services told me they neither confirm nor deny audits, allowing the WWE’s charges of political shenanigans to just kind of sit there for voters to draw their own conclusions.

As to when WWE first learned of the audit? I can provide a bit of information.

Early this summer we received a tip that some issues had been raised about the company’s use of independent contractors and WWE was working internally to quietly remedy the situation. The tipster cited a new law, signed by Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell and set to take effect Oct. 1, imposing stiffer penalties on companies found guilty of misclassifying workers.

So while WWE acknowledged the audit yesterday, might it have been launched months ago before McMahon entered the Senate race in September? Rell nominated her to the state Board of Education in early 2009 and some of the same questions about WWE were being raised during the confirmation process.

Could the audit have been launched before Blumenthal announced his candidacy in January?

Who knows? Again, the relevant state agencies won’t say. And it appears for now WWE has no incentive to shed additional light on the situation.




StingArmy
Andouille








Since: 3.5.03
From: Georgia bred, you can tell by my Hawk jersey

Since last post: 26 days
Last activity: 3 days
#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.45
    Originally posted by Rudoublesedoublel
    I don't know what you mean by "employment tax" (unless you're referring to FICA), but I would assume that as independent contractors the wrestlers receive 1099's at the end of the year instead of W-2's and that as part of the result they file their taxes as self-employed persons and must pay the self-employment tax. (Pure guessing here, not an accountant, but have done taxes with 1099s in the past.) IF I'm right, and IF wrestlers became employees, they would pick up a few extra dollars because of that difference.

I (perhaps incorrectly) was using employment tax as shorthand to refer to all the employment-related taxes and expenses a business has to pay when it has employees rather than independent contractors: unemployment insurance tax, worker's comp premiums, payroll taxes, etc.

- StingArmy
Shem the Penman
Toulouse








Since: 16.1.02
From: The Off-Center of the Universe (aka Philadelphia)

Since last post: 271 days
Last activity: 70 days
#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.10
So how long is it before WWE debuts a heel wrestler with a labor lawyer gimmick? He could disrupt matches by demanding to see everyone's contracts and working papers.



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Italian








Since: 11.5.02

Since last post: 8 hours
Last activity: 8 hours
#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.00
    Originally posted by Amos Cochran
    It's pretty shitty to rule that a lawsuit can only have merit if you're risking losing your job to file it.

The lawsuit was actually thrown out because they didn't file it within a specific timeframe (5 or 6 years I think) so they all had plenty of time to have their case heard if they hadn't waited so long.



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jwrestle
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Since: 4.4.03
From: Nitro WV

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#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.16
    Originally posted by Shem the Penman
    So how long is it before WWE debuts a heel wrestler with a labor lawyer gimmick? He could disrupt matches by demanding to see everyone's contracts and working papers.


IRS returns to a full ring action while professing he's getting a law degree?





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