An Oakland Raiders cheerleader is suing the team for wage and hour violations related to minimum wage, overtime, expenses, and breaks.
In stark contrast to team mascots, who are allegedly full-time employees with benefits, Raiders cheerleader Lacy T. alleges Raiderettes are effectively being paid less than $5 an hour.
But is the law on her side(line)?
$125 Per Home Game Doesn't Add Up: Lawsuit
Lacy T. alleges Raiderettes are paid below minimum wage. The Raiderettes' contract reportedly promised $125 for an eight-hour shift per home game -- $1,250 per season, paid at the end of the season. Lacy T. claims that amounts to less than $5 an hour, when counting contractually obligated -- but unpaid -- rehearsals, appearances at charity events, and participation in a swimsuit photo-shoot, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
While California's minimum wage is $8 per hour, whether the minimum wage law was violated will depend on how the court views the Raiderettes' unpaid rehearsals and appearances, especially considering they were privately negotiated contractual obligations. If the court roots for them, the cheerleaders may be entitled to back pay and overtime.
Paying the cheerleaders at the end of the season may also be problematic. California law requires compensating workers at least twice a month but creates an exemption for creative professionals. Still, creative professionals must typically be paid at least once a month, so the team could potentially lose on this front.
Should Out-of-Pocket Expenses Be Covered Too?
Among her many claims, Lacy T. also alleges Raiderettes must buy accessories such as tights, false eyelashes and a yoga mat, and pay for a pricey team-selected hairstylist. In total, Lacy T. allegedly spent $650 on those items this past season, reports the Chronicle.
According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, "if an employer requires that an employee wear a uniform, the employer must pay the cost of the uniform," including "apparel and accessories of distinctive design and color."
Hooters waitresses in California previously filed lawsuits over uniform expenses. For the Raiderettes, the false eyelashes and hairstyles must be sufficiently distinctive to be covered under the rule.
The cheerleaders are also required to foot their own travel expenses, which is generally prohibited under federal law.
Seeking Class Action Status
Lacy T. is seeking class action certification on behalf of an estimated 100 current and former Raiderettes, so it will be interesting to see whether this lawsuit blossoms into a larger wage and hour scandal rivaling the unpaid intern epidemic in Hollywood.
Of the 32 NFL teams, 26 have cheerleaders, so class-action status could potentially skyrocket this case to a whole new playing field -- much like the handsomely paid athletes' concussion class action lawsuits.