The NFL has found itself in an unkind light lately, and one issue it has been dealing with is lawsuits against teams who have been paying their cheerleaders less than minimum wage. Leading the way with such litigation, the 90 current and former cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders have been offered a settlement for withheld pay and underpayment of wages. The NFL team will pay them $1.25 million to settle a lawsuit if the amount is approved by the court.
The Raider’s cheerleaders brought suit against the Raiders in January. The complaint accused the team of violating California labor laws by only paying the cheerleaders $1,250 per season, which amounted to less than $5 an hour. The Raider’s also allegedly withheld the cheerleader’s pay until the end of the football season, and asked the women to pay for their own business expenses.
The $1.25 settlement is intended to cover underpayment of wages from the past four NFL seasons. According to the settlement, each Raiders cheerleader will be paid an average of $6,000 for each season worked from 2010 to 2012, and an average of $2,500 for the 2013-2014 season. The Raiders have offered its cheerleaders new contracts compliant with state labor laws.
This lawsuit against the Raiders was the first of many similar cases cheerleaders filed against their teams alleging underpayment of wages. For example, in April, five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders brought a wage theft lawsuit against their NFL team. This caused the cheering squad there to suspend operations for the team’s upcoming season. Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders also sued their team, alleging their pay is less than $2.85 an hour, violating Ohio’s minimum wage law requiring $7.85 an hour. The Buccaneers and Jets are also facing similar lawsuits from their cheerleaders.
These suits have drawn attention to the less-than-glamorous working conditions of NFL cheerleaders. Unlike professional football players, cheerleaders are not represented by a labor union.