On Friday, Daffney squared off with TNA over the mediation table in Nashville, TN over her Workers’ Compensation lawsuit which started in March 2011. If an agreement was not reached, she was willing to take the issue to court and let a judge decide if wrestlers were independent contractors, or if because of their circumstances they should be classified as employees and enjoy the benefits that a member of staff should have, such as medical insurance and a basic wage.
Daffney (Shannon Spruill) was willing to open Pandora’s Box in order to help out her fellow wrestlers who may have been injured in the past and were left out of pocket because of it, or for wrestlers who may get hurt in the future to be able to make the companies sort out the money for injuries they suffered while on the job.
A development in the case happened on Friday. Click the jump to read what happened.
It has been implied that a conclusion has been reached between Daffney and TNA. Details are sketchy, but earlier reports indicated that she was left $26,000 out of pocket from medical bills she had to pay after suffering successive concussions (the first was suffered at Bound For Glory in October 2009) which eventually ended her wrestling career and have caused her problems to this day, though the greater battle was to secure better rights for wrestlers who may find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
Daffney took to Twitter late last night to issue the following statement:
I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the love and support over the past two years. I appreciate so much that you recognize the HUGE injustice that is being done to Professional Wrestlers throughout the industry. I hope my case has opened up a few blind eyes and maybe now we, the wrestlers who put our bodies on the line every time we step in the ring, are one step closer to being provided with medical coverage and all the benefits that go along with being a true employee and not an independent contractor.
There is no mention of what the outcome was, but because she is speaking of the case in the past tense, it looks like there is an allusion that the proceedings have come to an end.
While Pandora’s Box may not have been fully opened in the independent contractor debate, it is certainly ajar. TNA did not want this case going to court and a judge ruling in favour of Daffney, as it would have meant a massive upheaval in how it runs its business. It could have also had an effect on other companies which sign their talent to contracts – most notably WWE, but also on a smaller scale, Ring Of Honor. WWE in particular is likely breathing a sigh of relief, as the ruling could have knocked their business practices for a loop without them being involved in the original dispute.
However, what Daffney did do – without support from other aggrieved colleagues – is show what leverage a wrestler can use if they find themselves in a similar situation. Threaten to test the independent contractor deal and stick to your guns. For this reason, TNA may do more in the future to make sure that it does not get to this level again, pay the medical bills of its injured talent and avoid a messy situation like it has found itself in. While she may not have made sure wrestlers are classified as employees, she made huge steps in making sure that they are not left out of pocket and may be treated a lot more favourably in the future.
Nobody should be upset at Daffney for the case not going through the courts. While the potential victory may have been especially sweet had she won, it would have meant a lot more time in the legal system – something that she has been dealing with for the past 24 months – and it would have taken even more out of her. In doing what she has done, she has made huge steps in making wrestling companies be held accountable for what they ask their talent to go through and do the right thing if injuries occur. Hopefully nobody will have to battle to this level on the subject ever again – it could get very expensive for TNA if they do.
– Lee Burton
– Photo by Gilda Pasquil