NFL Cheerleaders Get Basic Employee Rights Starting January 2016

Law Firm Newswire



Sacramento, CA (Law Firm Newswire) November 12, 2015 – The lawsuit NFL cheerleaders filed to get a fair working wage paid off. In January 2016, they start getting basic employee rights in California.

California Governor Brown signed a new law that comes into effect Jan. 2016, mandating that all professional sports teams provide their cheerleaders with basic employee rights, such as sick leave and minimum wage pay. Some former and current cheerleaders actually worked for as little as $2.85 per hour, while team mascots may make $23,000 to $65,000 per year. Cheerleaders were given poverty wages in a league that rakes in millions year after year and pays out astronomical salaries to players.

Although the California lawsuit did result in a bill destined to usher in a welcome change for NFL cheerleaders in California, there is some question as to whether or not this will inspire far-reaching changes in the NFL as a whole. New York is working to enact similar legislation and The Jets, Raiders and Buccaneers are allegedly paying their cheer squads minimum wage.

“The bill was introduced by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a former cheerleader, who championed it despite The Golden State having relatively tough labor laws. It is clearly an indication that despite those laws, there are those that choose not to follow them unless they are mandated to do so,” said noted Sacramento employment lawyer, Deborah Barron. “Workers in this state are entitled by law to fair and equitable pay for work. And when they do not get that, they should discuss the situation with an experienced employment attorney.”

Gonzalez further partnered with 18 politicians from eight states to send a no nonsense letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to start treating cheerleaders as employees who, by law, are guaranteed a minimum wage. It is unthinkable that an organization as big as the NFL condones and encourages wage violations.

According to the NFL, they do support fair employment practices, but point the finger directly back at clubs/teams that have cheerleaders, expecting them to comply with state and federal wage laws. In reality, the League has the power to force teams to pay cheerleaders, but is choosing not to use it. “It is not a team issue; it is a League issue. And until they take the responsibility for cheerleaders as employees, wage inequity will continue, against the law,” said Barron.

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