A bill was passed recently in California that limits a company’s ability to consider full time employees as “independent contractors.” The Bill has much clearer restrictions than the federal level. An employee can only be considered an independent contractor if it passes all three requirements: they must be free of the company’s control, their work must not be central to the company’s operations, and they must have a brand or business outside of the hiring company. Pro wrestlers do not meet any of those.
Unlike the WWE, the UFC treats their fighters as independent contractors. They don’t have to get any public appearances or interviews approved through the UFC prior to doing them. They’re allowed to work any sponsorship deal under their own name if they want to. Wrestlers are not free to work or accept any sponsorship deal without pre-approval.
Currently, gig-based companies are fighting the bill. Uber has stated that despite the new bill they will continue to treat their hired workers as independent contractors.
Dave Meltzer mentioned on Wrestling Observer Radio that there is no way that the WWE and AEW wouldn’t be legally effected by this new bill. He adds that if it came down to it, they could easily drop California from its live events market and be just fine.
There is a chance that the WWE will just go the Uber route and continue to treat their employees as independent contractors regardless of the law. There are only a few hundred professional wrestlers in the big companies and it’s possible they’ll be overlooked compared to companies like Fed Ex and Uber that employee thousands.
If this new bill is successful, other states such as New York are expected to follow.
(Credit: vox.com, cbsnews.com, f4wonline.com)