A recent uproar over the wages and hours for NFL cheerleaders began with a lawsuit filed against the Oakland Raiders in January 2014. Since then, many other current and former cheerleaders have filed complaints against either the franchise they cheered for and/or the NFL as a whole alleging unfair wages and hours as well as disrespectful treatment. The root of these issues stems from the fact that cheerleaders have long been classified as independent contractors rather than employees, enabling the franchises to avoid complying with the fair labor laws. State courts are now recognizing that the control each franchise has over the cheerleaders likely makes the women employees, requiring compliance with minimum wage laws and fair practices. According to the lawsuits filed, some cheerleaders were only paid $2.00 per hour, and some had no base compensation at all. Many were also forced to pay for their own uniforms and travel, and were required to appear at promotional events without compensation. As if the allegations regarding wages and hours were not enough, there are also many allegations that the women were forced to do "jiggle tests" and weigh-ins to check for approved body weight.
The Oakland Raiders settled a class action for $1.25 million. The payout will go to 90 cheerleaders from the 2010-2013 season. Beginning in 2013, the Raiders began paying minimum wage and overtime, shortly before the suit was filed. California also just recently approved a bill that will require cheerleaders to be paid minimum wage and get overtime and sick leave.
The NFL contends that they are not responsible for the wages or treatment of cheerleaders as the franchises have complete control over the squads, should they choose to have them. Only six of the 32 NFL teams choose not to have cheer squads.
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