A former WWE writer is suing the WWE and multiple employees claiming discrimination and racial harassment.
The suit names Chris Dunn (WWE Senior Writer), Ryan Callahan (WWE Lead Writer), Jeniffer Pepperman (WWE Senior Writer), Christine Lubrano (WWE Senior Vice President for Creative Writing Relations), Mike Heller (Lead Writer), Vince and Stephanie McMahon.
Britney Abrahams was employed by the WWE back in 2020 as a temporary Smackdown writer and was elevated to full-time status in May 2021. Abrahams describes herself in the filing as an “exemplary employee who was diligent and thorough in her work”. She claims that Bruce Prichard and even Vince McMahon himself praised her work and that was why she was offered a position writing all the vignettes for both Smackdown and Raw.
In the court filing, Abrahams describes various incidents she alleges created a hostile and racist work environment.
In one such circumstance Abrahams claims that while shadowing Dunn he wrote the following line for Bianca Belair: Uh-Uh! Don’t make me take off my earrings and beat your ass!
Abrahams asserts the line was “based upon cruel, ugly stereotypes of dark-skinned, black women”. She found it offensive. Abrahams says she researched Belair’s rich history and included that in her scripts for Belair but Dunn edited her work and inserted “racial and gender stereotypes” instead.
Abrahams wrote her boss Callahan and complained: “I know I’m new, I’m not trying to be disrespectful or step on [Dunn]’s or anyone’s toes, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that [Ms. Belair]’s scene includes racial jargon and offensive stereotypes, particularly her go-home line.”
According to Abrahams she also had a discussion with Belair who also didn’t appreciate the lines written for her saying: “I told him three different times that I don’t want to say that line but he never listens to me. He puts that line in every week.” Belair also said the lines make her look “ghetto”.
When Abrahams brought Belair’s concerns to Dunn he edited out the line.
Abrahams then maintains she was purposely shuffled around to sabotage her career with the WWE and that Jeniffer Pepperman and Callahan in particular “treated black and African American WWE employees poorly” such as at WrestleMania where African Americans employees were not allowed to take home limited-edition event-WrestleMania branded chairs for their own private use following the event while others were.
Abrahams states she also had to endure a racist pitch at a script meeting on Slack which included proposing that Reggie would dress in drag complete with wig and tights “so he could partner with Carmella, a female wrestler, in a tag-team match against other female wrestlers”.
That idea was dumped when a co-worker, Ms. Listenberger, responded by writing: “Putting a straight black man in drag might perpetuate harmful stereotypes that would offend viewers”.
Another example submitted by Abrahams has Shane Thorne as a hunter of people not animals and one of those people was Reggie. Abrahams claims Callahan pitched an angle of Shane “capturing Reggie and constantly beat him up, but Reggie would always escape after being captured” and holding Reggie in a cage.
When Abrahams complained she states in the filing that Callahan wrote back: Oh, what? Is that a bad thing?
Another occasion that alarmed Abrahams was when a love triangle between wrestlers Aliyah, Mansoor and Angel Garza was proposed. The idea was that Mansoor was hiding some kind of secret from Aliyah. Callahan suggested that the secret was Mansoor was behind the 9/11 attacks.
Abrahams was also deeply bothered by the WWE having Apollo Crews speak with a Nigerian accent because of his Nigerian lineage and new persona.
The court filing states that Abrahams believes her firing on April 7, 2022, was in retaliation for her taking the company and its employees to task for their behaviour. Abrahams is suing for damages in an amount to be determined at trial and her legal fees.