Leslie Smith case has merit claims the NLRB, complaint towards UFC to follow

Leslie Smith

After the whole fiasco that took place at UFC Atlantic City, Leslie Smith is starting to take some steps in the right direction.

Riding a two-fight winning streak (three at bantamweight), Smith was headed into the last fight on her contract at UFC Atlantic City in April when she was to take on Aspen Ladd. However, Ladd would end up missing weight and the fight would be called off.

This led to Smith trying to negotiate a new deal with the UFC on the spot so that she would take the fight. Instead, the UFC paid her her show and win money regardless in an attempt to count for the last fight on her contract…which wasn’t how that works since she didn’t actually fight. The UFC just wound up releasing her.

Smith would file an unfair labor charge for her case against the UFC in May that has now been given merit by the National Labor Relations Board according to Smith’s attorney Lucas Middlebrook via MMAFighting. The NLRB is now planning to file their complaint against the UFC.

“In this initial step, this is the best-case scenario,” Middlebrook said, “that the NLRB will have investigated the charge and determined that there was enough merit to file a complaint and prosecute the charge on behalf of Leslie.

I believe once the evidence is presented in a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, I believe at a minimum a determination will be made that the fighters are statutory employees. But I also believe that a determination will be made that by their conduct that they violated the [National Labor Relations Act] when they released Leslie.

If you look at the statistics, thousands and thousands of charges are filed each year with the NLRB and merit determinations are made. You just don’t hear about it, because typically they are not high-profile cases. But a lot of work went into presenting the NLRB with evidence and also refuting the UFC’s claims as to why it was not discriminatory. And in the end, the evidence that was presented convinced Region 4 that Leslie’s charge had merit.”

To put things into a simpler perspective, Marc Raimondi said it best after the news came forward:

In other words, there’s a chance later this year that a judge will hear evidence from Smith’s side claiming that UFC fighters are employees and not independent contractors. This could be a very big deal.

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/29/2018