this Oct. 6, 2013, file photo, Oakland Raiders
cheerleaders hold pink pom-poms for breast cancer
awareness before an NFL football game between the
Raiders and the San Diego Chargers in Oakland, Calif.
California lawmakers are sending Gov. Jerry Brown a
bill making it clear that professional cheerleaders
are sports team employees. The bill approved by the
state Senate on Monday, June 29, 2015, would require
that cheerleaders be paid at least minimum wage if
they work for professional sports teams based in
California. AB202 says they would have to be paid for
overtime and sick leave, the same as other employees.
FRANCISCO — They boost their teams from the sidelines and
promote them by appearing in calendars and at fan events,
but some sports cheerleaders say they are still not
considered team employees and are paid what amounts to less
than minimum wage.
legislation believed to be the first of its kind in the
nation is set to change that.
approved by the state Senate on Monday and sent to the
governor for his signature would require that cheerleaders
be paid at least minimum wage and overtime and sick leave if
they work for professional sports teams based in California.
who works hard to provide a great game day experience
deserves the same basic level of dignity and respect on the
job, starting with simply being paid for their work,"
said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who authored
bill was introduced in New York State this year.
on cheerleader pay comes in the wake of a spate of recent
lawsuits against NFL teams alleging they did not pay
cheerleaders for hours they spent practicing and making
public appearances. Attorneys for some of the cheerleaders
say the legislation is good, but existing law is already
clear that cheerleaders are employees entitled to minimum
nice to have clarifying legislation, but I don't think it
changes the state of the law at all," said attorney
Sharon Vinick, who represented former Raiders cheerleaders
in a lawsuit against the team.
Raiders cheerleaders were paid $125 per home game, or $1,250
per season, in a contract that includes hours of unpaid
rehearsals, charity and commercial appearances, according to
Vinick. Vinick reached a $1.25 million settlement last year
on behalf of dozens of Raiderettes who worked for the team
from 2010 to 2013.
rejected the team's classification of the cheerleaders as
independent contractors, saying the team decided what dances
they performed and music they used and set strict
requirements for them.
rejected arguments that the women were receiving exposure
that could open up opportunities in modeling or other
you are a young starting quarterback, you get lot of
notoriety for that, but you also get paid for that
work," she said. "The fact that the women might
get some opportunities doesn't justify not paying
Bills' cheerleaders were not paid at all, even for game
days, said Sean Cooney, a partner at the law firm of Dolce
Panepinto who is representing six cheerleaders in lawsuits
filed last year that name the team. The cheerleaders also
had to pay for their uniforms and hair and makeup.
because it was a job they like, that they were told was a
privilege," Cooney said.
Bills and Raiders' representatives were not immediately
returned. The Raiders in court documents said the
cheerleaders' lawsuit should be handled by league
York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have
also been sued over cheerleader pay, with the Buccaneers
reaching a settlement this year.
declined comment on California's legislation. NFL teams are
advised to follow state and federal employment laws, and
team cheerleaders are not employed by the league.
said the Bills cheerleaders are also suing the NFL because
it approved an agreement that classified them as independent
contractors who would not be paid.