kelly klein
Photo Credit: RING OF HONOR/Corey Tatum

Kelly Klein Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Ring Of Honor, Sinclair Broadcasting

Kelly Klein has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Ring Of Honor and Sinclair Broadcast Group after she was unfairly terminated in 2019.

According to court documents obtained by, Klein filed a lawsuit on February against Ring Of Honor and Sinclair Broadcasting, and listed the following names as parties in the suit:

  • Greg Gilliand (General Manager Of ROH)
  • Hunter Johnston (aka ‘Delirious’, creative director, senior producer for ROH)
  • Joe Koff (Chief Operating Officer of ROH)
  • Jamar Shipman (aka “Jay Lethal”)

Klein lists ten incidents dating back to 2016 that demonstrated various injuries or incidents that didn’t meet medical protocol. The suit also names numerous instances of discrimination and harassment including:

  • Breach of Implied Contract
  • Unpaid Royalties
  • Violation of State and Federal Equal Pay Acts, and Abusive Discharge
  • Discrimination and Harassment, and Unsafe Work Environment

Klein alleges she was terminated from Ring Of Honor on December 31, 2019 because of her complaints to management pay equality for female wrestlers, lack of safety and medical protocols after she was injured during a ROH event October of 2019, and the sexual harassment she experienced while working for the promotion.

Update: Stephen P. New issued a statement to WrestleZone’s Dominic DeAngelo regarding the lawsuit and noted a very important aspect that hasn’t been reported: making the claim that Klein should not be considered an employee but an independent contractor.

“The one thing the [wrestling news sites] are all missing is the misclassification allegations in the lawsuit as well. We are asking the court to strike down the independent contractor agreement in its entirety,” New said. “This could be revolutionary for the entire industry if the federal judge rules in our favor,” New added. “I’m excited to see how this will go.”

The first claim in the Klein lawsuit proposes the “declaratory judgement finding the arbitration agreement void or voidable.” Article 73 and 74 under this claim makes the case for the court to consider Klein as an employee under the state of Maryland when factoring in their strong public policy on the matter and therein rendering ROH’s contractual agreement between the company and Klein void.

The two articles are as follows:

“73. The arbitration provisions purport to apply to the determination of whether Klein is, in fact, an independent contractor or an employee and its terms purport to prohibit the determination that Klein is an employee as the arbitration provisions attempt to prohibit the modification of the contract.

“74. The State of Maryland has a strong public policy that employees be paid the wages they are due and a strong public policy to ensure that individuals are not misclassified as independent contractors when, in fact, they are employees.”

Klein and Koff previously spoke to Sports Illustrated in December 2019 about the company’s concussion protocol and the current situation between both parties.

“The protocol is just this: We recognize the dangers that are inherent in professional wrestling,” said Koff of Ring of Honor’s concussion protocol. “More specifically, the possibility exists of a wrestler suffering a concussion during a match, and we take all injuries very, very seriously. When we are alerted or when we feel there is an injury, we immediately defer to the medical professional on staff.”

At the time, Koff addressed Klein’s concussion telling SI that Klein turned down the opportunity to go to the hospital to be examined.

“I wasn’t there, but I was made aware that Kelly did not realize she was concussed until sometime after the match. That hour could very well be a true lapse of time. But as soon as she reported she was concussed, she received immediate attention. Kelly declined the option to go to the hospital at that point. Ring of Honor had management present at the event, including the hired operating agent for the tour. I will tell you that as soon I learned about it, I texted her and she told me she appreciated my text and told me she was fine.”

Klein did not publicly comment on the issues with the company until after Joey Mercury had gone on Twitter and publicly criticized Gilliland and his handling of talent. Mercury repeatedly talked about Klein in some of his exchanges and even revealed her pay and related email exchanges with Gilliland.

Klein posted on November 3, 2019 that she didn’t bring issues up publicly before because she “was afraid for my job and the jobs of my colleagues.” Klein said she didn’t want people to lose work and hoped this would make their respective workplace a safer environment, adding that she hoped “someone will finally listen and let me and others help make things better.”

Related: Jay Lethal Denies Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Says It Tarnishes Speaking Out

The full document can be viewed below:

Kelly Klein ROH Lawsuit by Heel By Nature