It could be a rainy night in Stamford.
A brewing tempest is swirling with news breaking about a recent investigation by the WWE board of directors into now-former WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon over hush money payments made to former female employees and allegations of misconduct against McMahon as well as Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis. Stephanie McMahon has since stepped in as interim WWE Chairwoman & CEO, while Vince maintains creative control of the company. Laurinaitis is expected to be gone from the company, but one major question still remains: What, if anything can the WWE board actually do to punish the near-teflon McMahon family patriarch?
Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston has provided something of a keystone to the entire situation, finding a November 2010 employment agreement, filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, that outlines the conditions under which the board would “have cause” to terminate McMahon’s employment.
Section (c) of the posted segment is especially important, as it refers to “the Executive’s willful and intentional material misconduct in performance of his duties or gross negligence of his duties (other than due to the Executive’s Disability), including an intentional failure to follow any applicable Company policies or directives” as a fireable offense. The company’s code of business conduct states, under the “Equal Opportunity Employment and Non-Harassment” section strictly prohibits any form of “grant or offer of an employment quid pro quo for personal intimacy.”
While the investigation has yet to disclose the nature of the numerous Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) that were uncovered between McMahon and former female employees, it should be noted that the January 2022 NDA between McMahon and a former-WWE paralegal was reported as a consensual relationship, with no kind of employment quid pro quo like the one detailed in the agreement.
However that NDA was the tip of a proverbial iceberg, with many more NDAs reportedly found, the details of which have not been disclosed and, according to the Wall Street Journal story that broke the news, the investigation was expanded into Human Resources programs and the overall corporate culture. If McMahon or Laurinaitis are found to have offered or altered anyone’s employment due to the alleged misconduct, or if any of those former employees felt the misconduct violated any of the other sections of the “Equal Opportunity Employment and Non-Harassment” section of the code of business conduct, then the board would seemingly have “cause” to fire McMahon.
Vince McMahon is scheduled to appear in character on tonight’s episode of “WWE Smackdown,” though many backstage are concerned about the idea.