Smith Files Labor Complaint Against UFC
Leslie Smith has made good on her promise to challenge the UFC’s labor practices.
Following her contract being bought out by the UFC, Leslie Smith is moving a head in a complaint against the UFC with the United States National Labor Relations Board.
In a story broken by MMA Fighting, the complaint was brought by Project Spearhead advisor and labor attorney Lucas Middlebrook, alleges that the UFC bought Smith out of her contract “based on the animus it held toward her engagement in protected activity.”
Smith is one of the biggest advocates of Project Spearhead’s efforts to organize and unionize fighters, and is the organization’s interim President.
Following her opponent for UFC Atlantic City, Aspen Ladd was pulled from the card due to missing weight by 1.8 pounds, the UFC bought out her contract after Smith wanted an extension for two more fights.
The UFC did the rare move of paying Smith her show money and win bonus, which the company considered the fulfillment of her contract.
In his complaint, Middlebrook wrote Smith never accepted money “as a quid pro quo for full satisfaction of ZUFFA’s contractual obligations remaining under her existing Promotional Agreement.”
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported on Wednesday that the UFC’s version of what went down with Smith, is different from the now released fighter.
“There simply can be no dispute ZUFFA took adverse action against Ms. Smith, and based on the facts set forth herein and those to be uncovered in the investigation into this issue, ZUFFA’s animus toward Ms. Smith’s protected activity was the substantial or motivating reason for the adverse action(s) taken against her,” Middlebrook wrote in the charge to the NLRB.
“Leslie Smith was one of the only UFC fighters willing to openly exercise her rights to form, join or assist a union,” Middlebrook wrote in the complaint.
“ZUFFA, with the termination of Ms. Smith, has delivered an unlawful message to the remainder of its fighter employees, which is: dare to form, join or assist a union and you too will accompany Ms. Smith not fighting in the UFC. This message contravenes the very purpose of the NLRA and ZUFFA cannot be allowed to continue flouting the Act. No person or entity is above the law.”