Vince McMahon is the subject of his own board's investigation. The World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) board is examining a three million dollar settlement paid by McMahon to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair with.
The woman worked as a paralegal for the company and was hired in 2019 and signed a separation agreement in January of 2022. That agreement bars her from discussing her relationship with Mr. McMahon.
The WWE board began their investigation into the matter in April after a series of e-mails were sent anonymously by a person claiming to be a close friend of the woman. Since then that the board uncovered other, older agreements.
What the email claims
According to the Wall Street Journal (who was first to report the story), the first email from the person claiming to be a friend was sent in late March. The friend reports that the woman was hired initially with a salary of $100,000 a year. They further allege that salary got doubled to $200,000 after she and McMahon began a sexual relationship.
The friend reports that the woman joined the company after earning her law degree but not taking the bar exam. The former employee was in need of a good paying job after taking care of a sick parent. In 2021, the former employee was moved from the legal department to assistant to John Laurinaitis, head of talent relations at World Wrestling Entertainment.
The Board of the WWE
According to the WWE’s website there are 12 people who sit on the WWE board.
That includes Vince McMahon who is the chairman of the board, his daughter Stephanie McMahon, and her husband Paul Levesque (a.k.a. Triple H).
Board member Man Jit Singh is the lead independent director and is running the inquiry, according to the WSJ.
Law Firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP have been retained by eight members of the board to conduct an independent investigation on the matter and HR programs inside the WWE.
The Journal reports that so far the inquiry has revealed other nondisclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees of misconduct by Mr. McMahon and John Laurinaitis. The exact number of claims being looked at is not known at this time. However, it has been determined that other NDA’s have payouts in the millions of dollars.
An unidentified spokesman for the WWE said the company is cooperating fully with all parties involved. They added that relationship between Mr. McMahon and the ex-employee was consensual.
Mr. McMahon’s attorney Jerry McDevitt has said that the former paralegal had not made any claims of harassment. He also points out that the WWE did not pay any money to the ex-employee on her departure. The inference being that Mr. McMahon personally paid for the settlement that was reported as $1 million up front and $2 million over a period of time.
McDevitt has repped both Mr. McMahon and the WWE for decades. Most notably in the mid 90’s when he defended both the WWE and McMahon against federal charges. The charges were for distributing and conspiring to distribute steroids to WWE wrestlers. Both the WWE and McMahon were acquitted by a jury. It is worth noting that the WWE is teaming up with Blumhouse for “The United States Vs. Vince McMahon” a TV series about the experience.
Vince McMahon bought the company that would become the WWE from his father in 1982. His wife, Linda McMahon is credited with co-founding the WWE alongside her husband. She served as the administrator of the Small Business Administration under former President Trump.