Friday, January 24, 2014

The Oakland Raiderettes are Suing the Raiders

After being taken to school by most of the NFL, the Oakland Raiders are being taken to court by their own cheerleaders.

You can disappoint your fans. You can waste your draft picks. You can fire your head coach so he can beat you in the Super Bowl. You can disrespect Al Davis' ghost in any number of ways (although I think he's been dead for centuries) but at least pay your cheerleaders.

So former Oakland Raiderettes are suing the team for unfair employment practices including unpaid salary and unpaid overtime. By contract, the cheerleaders are paid $125 for 10 home games (including preseason) and are not paid until the end of the year. They are not paid for rehearsal or other team events, adding up to less than $5 per hour. California minimum wage was $8 hourly in 2013.

Allegedly the team has not paid them that much.

“I love the Raiders and I love being a Raiderette,” said lead plaintiff Lacy T. “But someone has to stand up for all of the women of the NFL who work so hard for the fans and the teams.”

The women are not paid for makeup, hair styling or travel to photo shoots. They can also be fined for failing to wear the right clothing to workouts or not bringing a yoga mat.

"It's as if the Raiders' owners believe that the laws that protect all workers in California just don't apply to them," their attorney Sharon Vinick told the San Jose Mercury News. "I have never seen an employment contract with so many illegal provisions."

Yet poor pay for NFL cheerleaders is not exclusive to the Raiders. They seem to be paying about the league average. But at least the rest of the league is paying it.

So why would a woman accept below minimum wage to work for a multi-billion dollar organization? Putting “NFL Cheerleader” on your resume is a great career launching point, leading to potential acting, coaching and modeling jobs. Desperate Housewife Teri Hatcher is a former 49er cheerleader. But to pay a cheerleader $1250 a year while paying a practice squad player $6250 a game is unfair. Yes, even an NFL benchwarmer is an elite athlete, but so is an NFL cheerleader. Don't believe me? You try this:

Ever since I dated half the cheerleading squad my freshman year at Dominican College, I've had a soft spot for those hard working ladies.  There were four cheerleaders that year.