For four NFL seasons, beginning in 2010, 90 Oakland Raiders Cheerleaders claim they were denied minimum wage by the Oakland Raiders football franchise. They filed suit in January complaining that they were paid much less than minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. The Raiders franchise has agreed to settle the lawsuit.
Despite being a mainstay of football culture in our country, NFL cheerleaders are one of the biggest entertainment groups in the U.S., appearing not only at football games, but also at schools, conferences, and regular performances for the United States Armed Forces overseas. Cheerleaders are required to participate in practice, training camp, games, appearances, photo shoots, and charity events.
You would think professional cheering would be a very lucrative job. However, according to the Oakland Raiderettes, they were paid what equates to $5.00 per hour. They were paid a salary of $125 per home game, or $1,250 per season. This salary included hours of unpaid work at two to three rehearsals per week, performances at 10 charity events per season, and participation in the team's annual swimsuit calendar photo shoot, the suit said. Not only is this wage well below the federal minimum wage, but it is appalling below California's current minimum wage of $9.oo per hour.
Other wage violations
Paying the cheerleaders very little hourly wages was not the only way these women claim they were cheated. According to the lawsuit, the Raiders also required the women to pay their own expenses, such as traveling to events and for items required for maintenance and appearance.
They also claimed that the team imposed arbitrary fines of $10 or more for alleged offenses such as bringing the wrong pom-poms to practice, and withheld their wages until the end of each season, in violation of a state law that requires pay at least twice a month.
Oakland Raiders decide to settle
It was just recently announced that the Oakland Raiders have agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle this lawsuit. The settlement amount would award each cheerleader approximately $6,000 for each year they worked between 2010 and 2012, as well as $2,500 if they worked in 2013, after the Raiders raised the cheerleaders' pay.
There are similar lawsuits pending against various other NFL teams, including the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Claims for FLSA violations
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides protection for U.S. employees and ensures that they are paid at least the federal minimum wage for all of the time they spend working. While there are many employees that may be exempt from some provisions of the law, an employee covered by the FLSA who can show that they have not been paid the required federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you also have a right to file a private action against your employer for unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime and liquidated damages.
If you feel you have been not received the pay you are entitled, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.