Vince McMahon, WWE Sued By Former Writer Over 'Racist' Scripts
By Jason Hall
April 26, 2023
WWE and its executive chairman, Vince McMahon, were named in a lawsuit in which a Black female former writer claimed she was objected to "offensively racist and stereotypical jargon" in scripts for Black wrestlers, according to BloombergLaw.com.
Britney Abrahams alleged that she was subjected to several racist pitches and made multiple complaints, which were ignored, before she was pretextually fired for taking home a branded chair from the company's recent WrestleMania event, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Monday (April 24). Abrahams began contributing as a writer on WWE's SmackDown and RAW shows in 2020.
The complaint states that Abrahams complained about racial and gender stereotypes in scripts, which included instructing current RAW Women's Champion Bianca Belair, a Black woman, of saying, "Uh-Uh! Don't make me take off my earrings and beat your ass!" and having Apollo Crews, an American man of Nigerian descent, speaking with what she described as a "stereotypical and exaggerated Nigerian accent."
Abrahams said McMahon and his daughter, Stephanie, were included on a Slack threat in which other writers suggested that a Black male wrestler should dress in drag, which was only shot down after a white writer acknowledged that it could "perpetuate harmful stereotypes that would offend viewers." She also claimed that another writer pitched for a Muslim wrestler's character to have been "behind the 9/11 attacks," according to the lawsuit.
Abrahams said she and other writers complained about the incidents, which she claimed caused Vice President Christine Lubrano to respond with, "Wacky things are said in the writer's room all the time!" as well as “I know but look at the waves we’re making in the company. 4 years ago, no woman worked on the writer’s team!”
McMahon, who recently sold his company to Endeavor and was retained as executive chairman, returned to his role in January amid retirement following controversy last year. McMahon still had majority voting power through his ownership of the company's Class-B stock, which allowed him to add himself, as well as former co-presidents and directors, Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, to WWE's board, a move required three former directors to vacate their positions.
WWE's board of directors had previously rejected a move to reinstate McMahon since his retirement last year.
McMahon announced his retirement amid a sexual-harassment scandal in an official statement shared by the company, confirming his daughter, then-acting chairwoman and CEO, and WWE President Nick Khan, would take over as co-CEOs amid his departure.
Paul 'Triple H' Levesque, McMahon's son-in-law and a former top in-ring performer, took over WWE creative amid McMahon's departure. McMahon was reported to have since reclaimed creative control after the Endeavor sale, according to multiple reports.
In August, an SEC filing confirmed McMahon paid a total of $19.6 million in personal expenses.
The payments, which were uncovered during the company's ongoing investigation into claims of sexual misconduct committed by McMahon, made two payments in 2007 and 2009 that should have been included in the company's consolidated financial statements.
In July, the Wall Street Journal, which exclusively reported WWE's investigation a $3 million hush-money settlement paid by McMahon to a woman over an alleged affair, reported that the 76-year-old paid more than $12 million in hush money to four women during the past 16 years in an effort to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.
McMahon initially stepped down from his responsibilities voluntarily amid the ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct and would be replaced by his daughter on an interim basis.
Since then, McMahon had made multiple in-character appearances on both Friday Night SmackDown and Monday Night Raw, though not directly addressing the allegations or investigation and appeared publicly at the UFC 276 event in Las Vegas shortly after the conclusion of WWE's Money in the Bank event in the same city.
According to the Journal, an agreement was made in January 2022 to prevent the woman, a former WWE paralegal, from discussing her relationship with McMahon or making critical statements about him publicly.
A spokesperson for WWE confirmed to the Journal that the company was cooperating with the board's investigation -- which was launched in April -- and that the relationship between the 76-year-old and the former employee was consensual.
McMahon has been married to his wife, Linda -- who served as WWE's president and later CEO from 1980 to 2009 and later as Small Business Administration chief as part of former President Donald Trump's administration from 2017 to 2019 -- since 1966.
The Journal also reports that the board's investigation revealed other nondisclosure pacts stemming from misconduct claims involving other women who had previously worked for WWE, which involved McMahon and John Laurinaitis, WWE's general manager of talent relations, who was reportedly fired on Monday (August 8), according to PWInsider.
McMahon had previously disposed 38,519 of his shares of World Wrestling Entertainment stock at $0 following his recent retirement, but still remained the company's top shareholder, according to an SEC filing shared on WWE's official corporate website on July 26.