Are UFC fighters employees or contractors? Why the distinction matters – and could mean millions

Discussion in 'UFC Discussion' started by TheHNICuLuv2Hate, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. TheHNICuLuv2Hate #1 Plastic Nation Hater

    Feb 5, 2017
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    Fighters who came over as free agents after their UFC contracts expired had very similar gripes, many of them about the UFC’s “athlete outfitting policy” under an exclusive apparel deal with Reebok. What Coker couldn’t understand was how it was even legal.

    “Listen, they’re independent contractors,” Coker said in June. “How they’re forced to wear a uniform, to this day, still baffles me. It should be against the labor laws or something.”

    “They treat us like employees, but they don’t give us benefits like employees,” Dillashaw said. “It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. We have to tell them where we’re at at all times so USADA can show up and drug test us, but we don’t get health benefits. It’s kind of crazy that we are controlled. Any time you have to tell work where you’re at and what you’re doing, that’s considered an employee, not a contractor.”

    “One consequence for the UFC is if they’re misclassifying employees as independent contractors, then they owe the IRS a lot of money,” said Justin Swartz, an attorney with the firm Outten & Golden, one of the nation’s largest law firms to focus solely on employment law.

    “Dancers at strip clubs, they have schedules, they have rules to follow, and they have no business at all without the club,” Swartz said. “In some ways it’s the same with fighters. The fighters rely on the UFC in order to do their business, and they have a dress code, they have a lot of rules. But if they’re getting paid as independent contractors, then they’re paying their own employment tax, and they may be entitled to a refund.”

    By keeping fighters as independent contractors while heaping more and more restrictions on them, the UFC has managed to have the best of both worlds, according to Gary Ibarra, a manager who has represented fighters such as Cung Le and Ben Rothwell. (UFC representatives declined to comment for this story.)

    “(The UFC wants) the benefits of having employees, stuff like forcing the guys to wear uniforms, basically, which is an earmark of an employee,” Ibarra said. “But also when certain things happen that would be negatives, then, no, the UFC can say, ‘Hey, they’re independent contractors.’ That’s because, since the UFC has kind of gone unchecked, no one has forced them to adhere to one side or another.”

    “The National Labor Relations Board, their test is a little different from the IRS test, which is a little bit different than the Department of Labor test,” Swartz said. “But most of these tests, what they come down to is control and freedom. The way to look at it is, how much does the organization control these folks, and how much freedom do they have to run their own business? You need to look at the totality of the circumstances. Ask yourself, is this person in business for themselves, or do they rely on someone else whose rules they have to follow?”
    Arm Barbarian and mon like this.
  2. AusMMAfan Ultimate FIghting Circus Belt

    Jun 3, 2012
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    Sydney, Australia
    This is interesting but not surprising, UFC screwing over their fighters as per usual.

    That's what happens when the UFC buys out all of their competition and practically become a monopoly(Bellatar being a distant 2).
    Arm Barbarian likes this.
  3. Dirge Brown Belt

    Jan 29, 2004
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    Toronto, Canada
    Sports franchises do not have the same monoply rules that businesses have in the US.

    Also, as long as the fighters agree to the UFC's classification, no one will do anything about it.
  4. RoninJin Holla At Me If You Like My Avatar

    Dec 17, 2009
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    UFC response:
    We just released u from the contract or worse, not booking you for a fight and not releasing you
  5. ultimateriley-o Lego Maniac

    Mar 14, 2007
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    transcending a mere multiverse
    It's hilarious to me that this still goes on. it's such an important point that UFC tries to play both sides of the field -- they're contracted for fights, and don't get medical, and all the tax issues wrapped up in that, so they're contractors, but they have to wear a uniform, can't work for anyone else, have to comply with company policy, and have to make their whereabouts known at all times, like only employees would.
  6. franquito Orange Belt

    Jan 8, 2017
    Likes Received:
    right behind you
    Please, please let this blow up in IMG's face.

    Karma for pushing inferior female fights to the main cards.

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