Kelly Klein Files Lawsuit Against ROH And Sinclair Broadcasting, Accuses Jay Lethal Of Harassment

Kelly Klein, the former Women of Honor World Champion, is now putting forth a lawsuit against Ring of Honor’s Greg Gilliland, Hunter Johnson aka Delirious, Joe Koff, and Jay Lethal.

In the past, Kelly Klein has openly spoken about the injuries that she has suffered in the ring and the negligence she feels that Ring of Honor showed towards those injuries. Klein would eventually part ways with the promotion, leading to them having to rebrand and rebuild their entire women's division.

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In a new 28-page lawsuit against Ring of Honor and its parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting, Kelly Klein claims breach of implied contract, unpaid royalties, violation of equal pay acts, harassment, and unsafe work environment.

In the lawsuit, Kelly cites Ring of Honor's negligence and “illegal” actions resulting in injuries for not only herself but other wrestlers.

As a result of Defendants’ negligence and illegal actions, Klein and other wrestlers suffered many injuries while performing services for ROH.

Although professional wrestling matches are predetermined, the action that occurs in the ring can lead to serious injury. As such, wrestling companies are supposed to maintain proper and adequate medical personnel on site and render proper medical care. ROH did not provide adequate medical supervision, evaluation, or care at wrestling matches for Klein and their other performers

On or about September 16, 2016, Klein had a wrestling match at the Stage AE venue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and hit her head and neck on a steel guardrail during the match. Nobody employed or engaged by Defendants checked on Klein’s condition and no medical staff was available to evaluate her. Immediately following the wrestling match, Klein reported her injury to Whitmer who was Defendants’ agent in charge of the match, but no medical treatment was made available. Klein continued to suffer from headaches and pain from the impact of the guardrail through October 2016 so she told Johnston that she was going to seek treatment for the pain. Johnston did not offer any information, guidance or information regarding treatment. Klein sought treatment at her own expense, was never reimbursed any of the costs by Defendants and Defendants never reached out to Klein about her injuries or the costs related thereto.

On or about April 7, 2018 at the UNO Arena in New Orleans, Klein was wrestling another female who kicked Klein in the head and pulled on Klein’s head causing a concussion. As a result of being disoriented from the concussion, Klein was unable to “kick out” of a pin attempt (kick her legs such that her shoulders would be raised from the mat which would signal the referee to stop counting the pin) thereby resulting in the wrong finish for the scripted ending of the match. Despite Defendants knowing that the finish of the match was botched, Defendants did not check on Klein. Klein reported the injury to Defendants’ agent in charge of the match, Whitmer, but there were no medical personnel available to address her injury and no medical treatment was rendered. Klein never sought treatment for her concussion.

On or about June 2, 2018, Klein’s tooth was broken in a ROH match in the Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center in New York City and, again, Klein reported the injury to Defendants’ agent in charge of the match, Whitmer, but there were no medical personnel available to address her injury and no medical treatment was rendered. Klein sought medical treatment from a dentist for her injury and the tooth was capped. Despite ROH asking Klein for her x-rays and referencing her broken tooth both on their website and on an episode of their television show (episode 356, air date 7.13.2018), Defendants never followed up to check on Klein, request that she submit her medical bills or to reimburse her. Per Klein’s request, she was eventually reimbursed for the medical treatment related to the chipped tooth.

On or about December 14, 2018, Klein had an in-person conversation with Ian Riccaboni, an announcer for ROH, advising him that many of the female wrestlers did not feel safe in the wrestling ring with women wrestlers who were reckless and not properly trained. Klein advised Riccaboni that ROH management did not take the safety of their performers seriously otherwise a lot of the female talent engaged by ROH would not be participating in matches. Riccaboni told Klein that he understood the concern but that Todd Sinclair, who was the main booker for female matches, really liked those reckless women wrestlers but that he would have a talk with him about it (note that in professional wrestling, the “booker” is the person who sets up the wrestling matches, the storylines and the predetermined endings to the wrestling matches).

On or about January 30, 2019, Klein had a conversation with Todd Sinclair in Baltimore, Maryland regarding Klein’s safety concerns, specifically female talent being forced to work in matches they felt unsafe in and with people they did not feel safe with. Todd Sinclair told Klein that it was the first he had heard about these issues despite Klein previously overhearing another performer complaining to Mr. Sinclair about certain wrestlers being reckless and unsafe. Mr. Sinclair further explained that the unsafe, reckless women were only booked for a few more dates and asked that Klein work through those dates and that in the future Klein and others would be asked ahead of time if they agreed to work with those problematic performers. Klein had a similar conversation following a March 15, 2019 match in Las Vegas with Todd Sinclair, Johnston, and other ROH agents wherein she was also injured but the conversation fell on deaf ears. Klein did not seek treatment for her injury in the match.

Regarding harassment, Klein claims that she and all other female wrestlers were paid a lower wage than their comparable male counterparts. Also, she cites an incident in January of 2017 where Jay Lethal, real name Jamar Shipman, approached her and made her feel uncomfortable.

During the time that the Agreement and Amendment was in effect, Klein and all other female wrestlers were paid a lower wage than their comparable male counterparts.

On or about January 13, 2017, while Klein was in a hot tub near the pool of a hotel where the wrestlers were staying the night before an event, Shipman approached Klein and, while leering at her in a way that made Klein uncomfortable, started harassing her by asking her questions about whether her boyfriend was there, if she was staying in the hotel alone and how long she would be at the hotel. Shipman’s behavior made Klein very uncomfortable.

On or about January 25, 2017, Klein received an email from ROH management advising her and the other wrestlers that Shipman would be the new agent assigned to work with the female wrestlers. One day later, Klein responded to the e-mail and explained that she had witnessed and experienced several situations with Shipman that made her uncomfortable to work with him. She advised ROH management that she was not willing to work with Shipman and requested that another agent be assigned to her matches. Klein went on to explain that she had not expressed this sooner for fear of backlash or retaliation

In February of 2017, BJ Whitmer, another male wrestler signed to ROH, was informed by Shipman that Johnston informed Shipman that Klein had complained about him.

In July of 2018, Sinclair, by and through their human resources department, spoke with Klein regarding another female wrestler’s complaints regarding Shipman. Klein informed the department of her situation with Shipman in 2017 and was informed that no information had been received and no investigation was done. Klein also informed the department that Shipman knew she accused him of sexually harassing behavior.

According to the documents, Klein is seeking $75,000 for a multitude of reasons including, but not limited to the following:

  • Declaratory judgment from this Court as set forth and requested herein;
  • Compensatory damages including, but not limited to past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and lost earning capacity;
  • Damages as set forth in Md. Code Ann. Lab. & Empl. § 3-307(a) and/or 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)
  • Annoyance, aggravation, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress; mental anguish;
  • Consequential and incidental damages; (F) Court costs and expenses incurred in this action;
  • Pre and post-judgment interest; (H) Attorneys’ costs and fees;
  • All such damages and relief as are available under Maryland Code § 2-305, et seq. or other applicable Maryland law;
  • All such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

You can view the full complaint at this link.

(h/t: Heel By Nature)

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