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Feb
2016
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J-E-T-S! Theft! Theft! Theft! More NFL Cheerleaders Win Lawsuit over Wages

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The New York Jets have become the fourth professional football team to settle a wage theft lawsuit brought forward by their dancers, joining the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 52 members of the Jets Flight Crew, who worked between 2011 and 2013, will receive a total of $325,000 to correct minimum wage violations.  As part of the settlement, the Jets will admit no wrongdoing.  

The details of the lawsuit reveal similarities to the other cases:

The suit was filed in May 2014 in state court in New Jersey, where the Jets are headquartered, by a woman identified as Krystal C. She danced for the team for one season, from June 2012 to December 2013.

In that time, the complaint said, dancers were paid flat fees — $150 for games, $100 for special events — while required to spend additional hours practicing, exercising and engaging in beauty regimens at their own expense. The women were also made to buy “motivational” gifts for one another and their coach, the suit said. Those who were featured in the Jets Flight Crew calendar also had to buy calendars and spend time selling them to fans.

By some estimates of hours worked and expenses incurred, the flat-rate pay translated to hourly wages that fell under $4. Minimum wage in New Jersey was $7.25 in 2012; it is currently $8.38.

All women who danced for the team between 2012 and 2014 are eligible for part of the settlement money.  They will receive roughly $2,500 within 45 days, and those who were featured in the calendars will receive an additional $400 per photo shoot.  

N.Y. State Assemblymember Nily Rozic, who along with California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez co-authored an op-ed calling for sports teams to reclassify cheerleaders as employees, commented on the situation:

“Today marks a victory for the Jets cheerleaders who made it their fight to speak out against workplace injustice. With four teams having reached a settlement, I am hopeful that today’s decision will encourage the Buffalo Bills to do right by their cheerleaders and put an end to the series of lawsuits that have further brought the NFL’s respect for women into question.”

The Buffalo Bills are currently in the middle of litigation with a group of cheerleaders who say they have been improperly classified as independent contractors.  

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