The nation has seen it in the recent past — retired athletes, including those from the National Football League and the National Hockey League, suing their leagues due to chronic injuries from their playing days. Now over 50 retired wrestlers from World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. have followed suit, including popular figures such as Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
The wrestlers claim that the WWE was more concerned with corporate gain and overlooked issues such as the wrestlers’ financial security, health and safety. The complaint also claims that it concealed serious long-term risks, including traumatic brain injuries and degenerative brain disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Although typically scripted entertainment, it is not uncommon for professional wrestlers to experience and endure serious strikes and blows to the head and body during their performances. Among the chronic injuries the wrestlers are suffering are headaches, memory loss, confusion, dizziness, depression and mood swings, depression and Parkinson’s disease for one of the victims.
The suit claims that the WWE intentionally classified wrestlers as independent contractors, opposed to employees, as a way to avoid worker protection laws as maintained by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. Chronic injuries including head injuries are a serious concern for many employees throughout the country who work in potentially dangerous environments.
All employees should be aware of their employee rights, including the right to work in an environment where safety precautions are taken by the employer to prevent potential injuries, including long-term injuries that may affect an employee later in life.
Source: Reuters, “Dozens Of Wrestlers Sue WWE Over Neurological Injuries,” Jonathan Stempel, July 19, 2016