In an obvious and ham-handed two-stage leak by corporate operatives, the Associated Press is reporting that the Connecticut Labor Department’s audit of World Wrestling Entertainment independent contractor practices laid a dud.
The second and more-developed version of the story, under the headline “APNewsBreak: Contentious audit finds WWE owes $7K,” is at http://www.nola.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/apnewsbreak-wwe-owes-7316-in-back-unemployment/d17d1f740e954de39624b6c3a5a40c32.
The upshot, according to WWE lawyer Mary Gambardella (where is ole Jerry McDevitt when you need him?), is that a two-year investigation of the company turned up an alleged $7,316.64 shortfall in unemployment insurance payroll taxes for a couple of dozen part-time film archive editors. WWE paid the bill under protest to make the nuisance go away. To give this all extra-comical resonance, the employees in dispute had had the job of blurring out the old logo “WWF,” for “World Wrestling Federation,” following a successful trademark infringement suit years ago by the World Wildlife Fund, which forced the wrestling entity to change its name and abbreviation.
The substantial independent misclassification controversy at WWE isn’t about a few office flunkies, of course. It’s about how the wrestlers on Vince and Linda McMahon’s payroll, who drop dead by the bushel before their time, are not treated as the regular employees everyone knows they are, and are thus cheated out of covered health care and other benefits. (In the bargain, governments at all levels also get stiffed out of payroll taxes.)
If this is the last word on the subject from Connecticut Labor Commissioner Glenn Marshall, with the blessing of Governor Dan Malloy, then the state’s government and politics have become even more of a national laughingstock than they already were.