Former UFC competitor Leslie Smith has filed an unfair labor charge against the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Now the fighter’s attorney has come forward with a few words on the matter.
Leslie Smith was initially set to face off against Aspen Ladd back at UFC Atlantic City. After Ladd failed to make weight, Smith decided to negotiate her contract with the UFC in terms of her potentially accepting a catchweight bout against Ladd for the card.
However, the UFC did not accept Smith’s terms. Rather, the promotion paid Smith her show and win money for the cancelled bout in order to count the fight as the final match in Smith’s contract. The UFC then elected to not renew the fighter’s contract, cutting Smith from the roster.
Smith, president of fighter unionizing group Project Spearhead, later filed an unfair labor charge with the NLRB. Smith’s attorney Lucas Middlebrook first spoke to MMA Fighting to reveal that the NLRB has found merit in Smith’s claim and that the organization plans to file a complaint against the UFC over the matter.
“In this initial step, this is the best-case scenario, 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.”
Since then, Lucas Middlebrook has come forward with an update on the case. This time, the attorney claims that the UFC is likely pulling strings in D.C. to lengthen the entire process.
Speaking to MMA Fighting, Middlebrook revealed that the NLRB has now chosen to send the case to the group’s Division of Advice in Washington, D.C. before making any decision.
“It is my opinion that the UFC, unable to prevail on the merits, has now commenced the pulling of political strings to evade responsibility for violating the [National Labor Relations Act]. This only means delay, as Leslie will take all legal measures necessary to ensure Region 4’s initial determination stands.”