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CA Bill to Protect NFL Cheerleaders from Wage and Benefit Abuses Advances

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A bill has advanced in the California Assembly that would extend labor protections to NFL cheerleaders and entitle them to minimum wages.  AB 202 would also require teams to pay their cheerleaders overtime and give them the same benefits afforded other team employees, such as paid sick leave.  After passing the Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media, the bill went to the assembly where it passed by a 52-21 margin.  It will now head to the State Senate.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who sponsored the bill, told The Los Angeles Times that the bill was meant to address a “long-standing tradition of treating their cheerleaders as glorified volunteers, independent contractors or simply refusing to abide by basic wage and hour laws.”

Gonzalez added: “This bill simply demands that any professional sports team treat women on field with the same dignity and respect that they treat the guys selling beer.”

If passed, the bill would apply to all cheerleaders of professional sports teams in the state.  In January, the Oakland Raiders’ cheerleaders brought forward a lawsuit in which they claimed that they were paid an hourly wage of $5, among other labor violations. A similar lawsuit was later filed by the Buffalo Bills’ cheerleaders.  

The Raiders lawsuit, Lacy T. et al. v. the Oakland Raiders, claimed that cheerleaders were paid at the end of the season, were not paid for full hours worked, and were on the hook for many business expenses.

The law firm of Fox Rothschild provides general context for the legal situation that lead to AB 202:

This situation raises both the independent contractor and “working time” issues, although in a different (i.e. unique) context.  That context, however, does not change the fundamental legal issues at stake.  If an individual is under the control of an employer, as the workers here were clearly, they are “employees” and if there is any managerial direction or compulsion exerted on them to perform certain activities (off-the-field appearance), that is working time.


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