Cheerleader Sues Oakland Raiders, Claiming Pay of Less than $5 per Hour
NEW YORK (MainStreet) An Oakland Raiders cheerleader has filed a class action lawsuit claiming cheerleaders make less than $5 an hour and can be fined for many infractions, including bringing the wrong pom poms to practice and gaining five pounds.
Lacy T., a Raiderette having just completed her rookie season, is named as the lead plaintiff in the suit. Raiders cheerleaders are only known by their first names.
"Raiderettes are required to attend all of the Raiders' preseason, regular season and postseason home football games," Lacy T.'s complaint says. "They are also required to attend and participate in all practices, rehearsals, fittings, preparations, drills, photo sessions, meetings and workouts, as determined and directed by the Raiders."
Cheerleaders must also attend other special events without pay. The suit claims Raiderettes are paid a flat rate of $125 per game. Members also spend up to $650 in unreimbursed expenses per season, according to the complaint. Cheerleaders are not reimbursed for travel expenses.
The suit also says that if a Raiderette gains five pounds or looks "too soft," she may be benched and not allowed to perform.
"If a Raiderette forgets all or part of the official uniform for a game day event, she will be fined and/or benched from the game," the complaint says. Benched cheerleaders are not paid.
"I've been dancing for 16 years, and I was paid more for dancing in college than I am as a pro cheerleader," Lacy told the San Francisco Chronicle. Lacy T. was formerly an NBA cheerleader with the Golden State Warriors, where she says she was paid $10 an hour, plus expenses.
The class action suit was filed by attorney Sharon Vinick, who told Oakland television station KTVU, "I was just shocked at the type of provisions that were in this contract and how an organization with the resources and sophistication as the Raiders could give this kind of contract to their employees."
The class action suit seeks damages for failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay wages in a timely manner, unlawful deduction from wages, failure to pay overtime, failure to provide wage statements, "unlawful prohibition on discussing wages," and failure to reimburse expenses, among other claims.
The movement to boost compensation of professional football cheerleaders is not just a Raider Nation issue. Change.org hosts a petition urging the NFL to "pay your cheerleaders a living wage." The petition states that "many of these skilled athletes make less than $1,000 per year. Comparatively, an NFL mascot can make as much as $65,000 per season."
The petition claims 50,000 signatures to date.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet