Former ROH Women of Honor champion Kelly Klein hasn’t wrestled since October of 2019. Shortly after her last match, Klein’s then-husband BJ Whitmer accused Ring of Honor of firing her while she was dealing with post-concussion issues.
During last summer’s #SpeakingOut movement, Klein spoke up about ROH’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against former ROH World champion Jay Lethal.
Both incidents are featured in an employment discrimination lawsuit Klein filed against Ring of Honor, and their parent company Sinclair Broadcasting. Heel By Nature was the first to report on the suit, which can be found in full here.
Klein is seeking $75,000 for breach of implied contract, unpaid royalties, violation of equal pay acts, harassment, and unsafe work environment. It names ROH General Manager Greg Gilliand, Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff, Senior Producer/Creative Director & ROH Dojo Head Trainer Hunter “Delirious” Johnston, and Lethal (real name Jamar Shipman) as parties in the suit.
Several incidents over the course of Klein’s four years with ROH are documented as evidence the company does “not provide adequate medical supervision, evaluation, or care at wrestling matches”. In 2016, she says she approached Johnston about pain she was experiencing after hitting her head & neck on a guardrail during a match, but he offered no guidance on how to receive treatment or get reimbursed for treatment. In Dec. 2018 & Jan. 2019, after again receiving no treatment or guidance for a concussion she suffered when an inexperienced wrestler kicked her in the head during a match, Klein raised concerns about the risk of working with green to talent to announcer Ian Riccaboni and referee Todd Sinclair, who booked women’s matches at the time. She was asked to “work through” the remaining dates the “unsafe, reckless women” were booked for.
The pay disparity between male wrestlers under contract to ROH and Klein & the rest of the women’s roster is cited in the case. As to harassments, Klein points to a 2017 incident where Lethal “leered” at her while she was in a hot tub and harassed her with questions about her boyfriend & if she’d be staying at the hotel by herself. When Lethal was made an agent for women’s matches a short time later, Klein told management he’d made her uncomfortable, and that she was aware of similar situations with other women wrestlers. She says she never received any follow-up from the company, and learned that Johnston told Lethal she’d complained about him. Klein reported all of this to the company when Taeler Hendrix accused Lethal of sexual harassment the following year.
Beyond general investigations, no public action has been taken against Lethal, and he is currently an ROH Tag Team champion.
As of this writing, neither ROH or Sinclair have commented on Klein’s lawsuit.