Update on EEOC Discrimination Charge Filed Against TNA
from Phil Varlese:
This is a followup to last week’s report about a wrestler who has filed a charge of unlawful discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC monitors cases of discrimination that may take place in the workplace.
This wrestler was a former TNA Gut Check participant, whose identity is being withheld for now, as he feels his career may be compromised if his identity is revealed right now. What can be shared at this time is that the charges were filed in April of this year, and the EEOC felt there was a case and moved forward. They then contacted TNA to advise them of the charges, and get a response, which to date they have not received, despite several requests for a response from the agency.
From what I’ve been told by the wrestler, the EEOC has been in touch with a Mr. Creede Williams, who is Panda Energy International’s senior vice president and general counsel. Mr. Williams serves on the company’s executive team and oversees all legal matters, including litigation, project and corporate finance, governance, M&A activities, divestitures, State and Federal regulatory affairs, securities compliance, departmental budget and management responsibilities, in addition to shareholder relations. Prior to becoming general counsel, Mr. Williams served in various executive roles within the organization, including assistant general counsel and secretary, as well as general counsel to Panda’s subsidiary entertainment company, TNA Entertainment, LLC.
About 4 weeks ago, Mr. Williams asked for an extension to respond to these charges, and present a response, and to date, the EEOC has yet to receive such. The wrestler has been informed that corporate attorneys will often delay a response for many reasons, including imminent bankruptcies, or closing the doors of a company. While the financial profile of TNA cannot be determined at this time, the fact remains that several TNA wrestlers have received their pay late. PWInsider.com is reporting that the blame is being put on Panda Energy, TNA’s parent company. They are stating that the movement from their side appears to be “slow.” Their source that claimed to be six weeks behind was “being ridiculous” and the issues have been resolved since the initial report.
Some of the third party vendors are behind in getting paid as well, and one unnamed wrestler said that he heard that some workers checks were up to four weeks late, despite statements from TNA to the contrary.
Recently, in a move necessitated by ongoing budget cuts within the promotion, TNA released Crimson, Joey Ryan, Christian York, and Taeler Hendrix. With none of the four being featured prominently on television on a weekly basis, all were deemed expendable.
When a worker files a complaint, the EEOC notifies the employer and asks it for a “statement of position,” in which it offers its side of the story. The EEOC follows up with a formal request for the employer to supply documents and other information relevant to the case, such as copies of company human resources policies and personnel files. EEOC staff may also visit the workplace, something that the agency itself acknowledges can be disruptive to company operations. While on site, the staff may ask the employer to make employees available for interviews. The employer can say no, but the EEOC can still contact them away from work — without the employer’s knowledge or permission.
An employer may be able to avoid a formal EEOC investigation by agreeing to try to resolve the matter through mediation or by settling the complaint. If the employer declines to mediate, or if the EEOC concludes that the case is too serious for mediation, the EEOC may sue the employer. Even if the EEOC decides not to sue — or take any action — the employees who filed the complaint reserve the right to sue.
More information on this claim will be made available soon.