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NFL cheerleader files proposed class action over wages, overtime

An Oakland Raiders cheerleader just filed a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of 40 current and former Raiderettes. She claims the Raiderettes’ contract violates both state and federal wage and hour laws -- and cheerleaders’ contracts with other NFL teams probably do, as well. She invites other dancers with similar problems to join. Twenty-six of the NFL’s 32 teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, have cheerleaders.

"I love being a Raiderette, but someone has to stand up for all of the women of the NFL who work so hard for the fans and the teams," she says.

Raiderettes are paid $1,250 per season, nominally $125 for each home game, with no benefits. They’re not paid for other required work, however, including weekly rehearsals; 10 charity performances each season; team rallies and Fan Day; or the annual swimsuit photo shoot. Take that into account, the lawsuit says, and their pay amounts to less than $5 an hour -- below the federal minimum wage required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The team also docks their pay for minor infractions or gained weight. If the squad’s director thinks a dancer looks “too soft,” she is benched from the next game and forced to forfeit $125 of her pay -- but she still has to perform during pregame activities and halftime.

Additionally, each Raiderette must pay for her own accessories and travel, and for the cost of a hairdresser the team chooses, whose fee is several hundred dollars for each appointment. The plaintiff says she spent around $650 -- more than half a season’s pay -- for those items last year.

Moreover, the cheerleaders aren’t paid at all until the end of the season, a violation of California law, according to the lawsuit.

On top of all that, the Raiders’ male mascots are considered employees and given benefits.

According to the woman’s lawyer, when Raiders management learned about the lawsuit, they offered a settlement of $2,780 for the 332.5 regular hours and 10 hours of overtime she had logged for the season. That works out to about $8 an hour. Her per-game pay rate would be $15.63.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for the minimum wage violations and unpaid overtime, and the denial of legally-required meal and rest breaks, as well as reimbursement for the work-related expenses.

Employment law is not a game. Everyone deserves to be paid fairly and lawfully for their work.

Source: SFGate, "Raiders cheerleader sues, says pay is less than $5 an hour," Bob Egelko, Jan. 22, 2014

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