Cheerleaders vs. Teams: the Latest Wage Lawsuits
Being a pro cheerleader looks like a pretty good gig, but the more we learn about how professional sports teams treat their cheerleaders, the less fun it sounds. Most recently, the Cincinnati Ben-Gals, the same Bengals cheerleaders subjected to dehumanizing rules like "no panties" and "so slouching breasts," just reached a $255,000 settlement with the team over federal wage and hour violations.
Cheerleaders may now officially be employees, but they aren't getting compensated like their male athletic counterparts just yet. And in some cases, they're not even making minimum wage.
Sis-Boom-Bah, Sue the Boss!
Here's just a quick recap of recent cheerleader litigation:
- The Oakland Raiders settled a cheerleader wage theft lawsuit for $1.25 million.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers settled a similar lawsuit for $825,000.
- The Buffalo Bills were sued for wage and labor law violations.
- And now the Milwaukee Bucks are being sued for violating minimum wage and overtime laws.
Lauren Herington filed the suit against the Bucks in federal court, alleging she was paid less than $3 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25. Her case has become a rallying cry for NBA cheerleaders looking for fair pay and better working conditions.
Many professional sports franchises attempt to skirt wage and hour laws by classifying cheerleaders as independent contractors rather than employees. The problem is that one of the defining characteristics of employees is the amount of control employers have over their work and working conditions. And if cheerleaders' stories about rules regulating everything from nail polish to washing intimate areas are to be believed, they are far from independent contractors.
So next time you head out to the game, remember that the cheerleaders getting you to root for your team also need someone rooting for them in their battle for fair pay and humane working conditions.
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- Milwaukee Bucks cheerleader files minimum wage lawsuit against team (Reuters)
- Raiders Cheerleader Sues, Claiming She's Paid Less Than $5 an Hour (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- Ex-Colts Cheerleader Sues Team Over Nude Body-Paint Photos (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- $11M Penalty for Website that Defamed Bengals Cheerleader (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
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