Monday, January 27, 2014

NFL's Oakland Raider Cheerleader Sues Team for Paying Below Minimum Wage

Out of the 32 teams in the National Football League (NFL), 26 have cheerleading squads.  While it may seem like cheerleading at any level isn't a "job" as the term is used generally, the cheerleaders in the NFL are paid and the teams are subject to labor and employment laws just as any other person in a non-glamorous job.  Many women try out for these cheerleading squads every year and it is the dream of many, which opens the door for abusive practices.  One Oakland cheerleader, known as a Raiderette, knew she was not being paid correctly and has filed suit against the NFL team alleging various wage & hour law violations.

Lacy T. (team policy requires the cheerleaders real names be kept anonymous) is a 27-year-old stay at home mom who filed the suit which alleges the Raiderettes are required to take part, without pay, in two to three rehearsals per week, the 10 charity events, a team rally, Fan Day and the swimsuit calendar photo-shoot. They must also pay the costs of traveling to those events.  The Raiderettes are also responsible for paying numerous and various costs and are subject to fines for things such as bringing the wrong pom-poms or yoga mats to practice or are "benched" for gaining weight or not looking toned enough.

The Raiderettes' contract calls for $125 per home game, or $1,250 per season. That amounts to less than $5 an hour, counting hours of unpaid work in rehearsals, performances at 10 charity events and participation in the team's annual swimsuit photo-shoot, the suit said.  Additionally, the suit said, the Raiders withhold the cheerleaders' pay until the end of the season, in violation of a California state law requiring pay at least twice a month.

The suit, which is a class action suit on behalf of current and past Raiderettes from the last 4 years, seeks compensation for minimum wages, overtime, expenses and meal and rest breaks that state law requires after five hours of work.

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