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53 U. Louisville L. Rev. 143 (2014)
Employees vs. Independent Contractors and Professional Wrestling: How the WWE Is Taking a Folding-Chair to the Basic Tenets of Employment Law
David Cowley*
Abstract

     Regardless of whether the WWE is actually more benevolent than it is popularly perceived, the classification of a worker as either an employee or an independent contractor is a question of law. After properly applying any number of accepted objective tests to make this determination, the WWE’s classification of its wrestlers as independent contractors appears to be patently wrong. 

     The first step to unionization and, hence, collective bargaining, will be characterizing WWE wrestlers as employees in a court of law. Unsurprisingly, three former WWE wrestlers accused the WWE of employee misclassification in 2008, but their case was dismissed on procedural grounds. This Note will argue that those wrestlers’ claims were correct. First, I will discuss the development of the relevant laws for the employment classification determination of a worker. Next, I will apply the relevant rules to the case of WWE wrestlers using an accepted legal test for the determination. Finally, I will argue that WWE wrestlers must be legally classified as employees and discuss the implications of this finding, namely, the realization that the WWE has been illegally depriving its wrestlers of millions in benefits for nearly fifty years.

* J.D. Candidate, May 2015, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville. Special thanks to my brother and fellow wrestling fanatic, Pat, and Grantland wrestling correspondent David Shoemaker, who were both tremendously helpful in completing this Note.