Cheerleading Leads the Team to a Victory

Lake Brantley Cheerleaders, by flickr user Russ Sanderlin, licensed by Creative Commons.

Raiderettes have something to cheer about

The employees who are expected to show the most enthusiasm and team spirit are the same individuals who maintain their positions at the bottom of the Oakland Raiders pay scale. Former Cheerleaders for the team initiated a class action lawsuit against the NFL for unfair payment of wages. Although a legal settlement was reached in early 2014, the Raiders Cheerleaders have only recently reaped the benefits.

One of the causes for concern was that their previous minuscule yearly income of $1,250 did not include the various travel and business expenses, which the Cheerleaders were forced to pay out of pocket. In addition, their wages, less than minimum, were held for extended periods of time. Instead of earning an hourly income, the Cheerleaders made a flat rate of $125 a game. As an added punishment, a portion of their wages were taken away if the Cheerleaders committed certain breaches of their contracts, including minor dress code infractions. Their overtime pay was also questionable, as the Cheerleaders often attended charity events and promotions with only receiving compensation at the end of the football season. Such practices violate labor laws in the state of California.

The consideration that the team was committing wage theft brought the lawsuit to an adequate settlement. Last week, three years after the settlement was finalized, 90 Cheerleaders received the divided compensation of $1.25 million. Their yearly income increased to $3,200, with an hourly wage of $9, plus overtime. The settlement includes any Oakland Raiders Cheerleader who has been employed by the team since the 2010-2011 season.

Due to the obvious wage discrepancies, other NFL team cheerleaders have followed in the footsteps of the Raiders Cheerleaders with filing lawsuits.  Due to the despicable earned wage rate of $2.85 an hour, in October 2015, the Cincinnati Bengals Cheerleaders settled their class action lawsuit with the NFL. Similarly, last January 2016, the New York Jets Cheerleaders profited from a $325,000 settlement. Within this multi-million-dollar industry, where the NFL commissioner has made about $180.5 million since 2009, the wages of the teams’ cheerleaders remain deflated.

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