Factual misstatements, omissions cited by Smith in dismissal letter as she appeals NLRB decision

October 8, 2018

MMA Junkie reports that Leslie Smith will file an appeal of her dismissal of her NLRB labor complaint.

In a two-page decision dated September 18, 2018, the NLRB cited that after an investigation Smith’s complaint lacks merit.  “[t]here is insufficient evidence to establish that the UFC’s failure to renew her contract in April 2018 was based on any protected activities.”

The letter from Region 4 regional director Dennis P. Walsh notes that the “UFC’s failure to renew a contract and continue to negotiate with Smith” was not clear as to if it was an adverse employment action.  Essentially, the decision did not see evidence that re-signing Smith to a new contract was an adverse employment action.  The UFC’s unwillingness to make a counteroffer to Smith’s contractual demands was not evidence of an adverse employment action.

The decision cites three times that the UFC’s conduct actually benefited Smith.  They cite the UFC allowing Smith to remain in the promotion in 2017 after refusing to accept two fights.  Despite her refusal, her contract was extended twice.  The UFC approved Smith’s request to wear a Project Spearhead mouth guard for her April 21st fight despite the ban on third-party logos due to the Reebok deal.  Finally, the NLRB cites the UFC granting Smith $500 for travel expenses related to her April 21st fight.

Lucas Middlebrook, the attorney for Smith, has filed an appeal to the decision and requested two NLRB officials to be recused from the appeal as well as requesting that the same investigator that originally found merit in Smith case review the appeal. He accuses the UFC of using political ties to have the complaint sent to D.C. for additional review.

Smith argues that there were several factual misstatements in the dismissal letter including the allegation that she would not fight unless the UFC gave her additional money and added two fights to her expiring contract.  She also argues that the Bout Agreement obliges the UFC to reschedule the bout or terminate the existing Bout Agreement.  Since the fight was not rescheduled and the bout agreement was terminated, Smith argues that she should have had one more fight left on her contract. Based on this interpretation, the dismissal letter claims that her contract had ended but that would not be the case.

She also noted omissions in the dismissal letter decision including her No. 9 ranking in the UFC and having won 3 of her past 4 fights with the only loss coming outside of her weight division.  She also indicated that the $500 provided to her for travel was related to per diems unpaid by the UFC which included costs for checked luggage.

Payout Perspective:

This will be an appeal to watch considering the allegations and the belief that politics are involved in this.  Dana White and the UFC are friendly with the current administration.  In fact, UFC Fight Pass will be airing a special about Trump and his ties to MMA.  But, will the NLRB listen to the merits of this appeal and overturn the dismissal?  The most compelling argument for Smith is the bout agreement which requires either a reschedule of the bout or cancellation of the bout.  With a cancellation Smith would have been allowed one more fight on the contract.  If not, there is a possible claim for breach.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

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