Two Classifications Enter, One Classification Leaves: Are UFC Fighters Employees or Independent Contractors?

23 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2020

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

The fighters who compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) are currently classified as independent contractors. However, this classification appears to contradict the level of control that the UFC exerts over its fighters. This independent contractor classification severely limits the fighters’ benefits, workplace protections, and ability to unionize. Furthermore, the friendship between UFC’s brash president Dana White and President Donald Trump — who makes appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — has added a new twist to this issue. An attorney representing a former UFC fighter claimed this friendship resulted in a biased NLRB determination in their case. This article provides a detailed examination regarding the relationship between the UFC and its fighters, the relevance of worker classifications, and case law involving workers in related fields. Additionally, an analysis of the proper classification of UFC fighters using the International Revenue Service (IRS) Twenty-Factor Test is performed.

Keywords: Employee classification, Employment law, Labor law, UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship, NLRB, Employee, Independent contractor

Suggested Citation

Conklin, Michael, Two Classifications Enter, One Classification Leaves: Are UFC Fighters Employees or Independent Contractors? (2020). Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3615038

Michael Conklin (Contact Author)

Angelo State University ( email )

2601 W. Avenue N
San Angelo, TX 76909
United States

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