The daughter of WWE chief executive Vince McMahon announced sweeping changes to the pro wrestling company’s domestic violence policy on Monday. Stephanie McMahon, who has been enjoying a resurgence in the spotlight as not only a behind-the-scenes executive, but an in-ring personality, said the new policy, to be instated immediately, provides zero tolerance. She said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports:
“We have a zero tolerance policy for domestic abuse. Upon arrest for such misconduct, our superstars are immediately suspended and should there be a conviction, that superstar or diva would be terminated.”
The company’s language in its updated “Talent Programs and Policies” document posted on the WWE’s corporate Web site reads almost exactly the same, adding in cases child abuse and sexual assault under the new zero tolerance policy, as well. It also includes a clause that leaves considerable leeway for the company seemingly to terminate employees even if there is no conviction. Per the Web site:
“WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Upon arrest for such misconduct, a WWE talent will be immediately suspended. Upon conviction for such misconduct, a WWE talent will be immediately terminated.
“WWE’s ability to fine, suspend or terminate a WWE talent will not be, however, limited or compromised in any manner in the event incontrovertible evidence of such illegal misconduct is presented to WWE. Section 9.13(a) of the WWE booking contract, commonly known as the ‘morals clause,’ provides WWE with broad discretion and authority to act under such circumstances.
The new policy comes on the heels of sweeping changes made within the NFL after Ray Rice was caught on video knocking out his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an elevator. According to a WWE statement sent to The Washington Post, that is one of the major reasons for the policy change.
“We have watched and learned from what has unfolded in the NFL, and we felt it was important to establish a zero tolerance policy for domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse,” the statement reads. The company says the policy will apply to all WWE corporate employees, as well, and not just those in the ring.
“We are in the midst of updating our employee code of conduct to reflect the same zero tolerance policy,” the WWE said.
Many might argue, however, that the new policy comes several years too late for the WWE, which has a gory history with domestic violence.
Most infamously, WWE wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife and child before killing himself in June 2007. Prior to the crime, his wife Nancy had filed for a protective order with a Georgia court citing “family violence” as the reason. Benoit, whose toxicology report showed more than 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system at the time of his death, was still allowed to compete.
Other wrestlers have also had run-ins with the law regarding domestic violence while under contract with the WWE. Among the most famous is “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who was accused of domestic abuse against his ex-wife Debra Marshall in both 2002 and then again in 2004. In 2007, after the Benoit tragedy, Marshall told Fox News host Sean Hannity of a “code of silence” she saw around the WWE and domestic violence issues.
“You don’t talk about this kind of stuff,” she said.
It looks like you do now.