In January of this year, two former cheerleaders filed a lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, alleging that they broke a variety of state laws, including failing to pay the Raiderettes minimum wage, withholding wages for months until the end of the season, and failing to reimburse cheerleaders for business expenses. The Raiderettes recently agreed to a $1.25 million settlement, which must be approved by the court before it is final.
Prior to the lawsuit, Raiderettes earned $125 per game, which was paid at the end of the season in a lump sum. They were responsible for paying their own expenses and mileage. If they broke the team’s rules, such as by gaining weight, failing to bring the correct pompoms to practice, or for wearing the wrong color nail polish, they would have their wages deducted. They were not entitled to breaks during games. They were not paid for their rehearsals, practices, or any mandatory events at which they appeared.
The lawsuit changed those illegal practices by the Oakland Raiders. They will now be paid $9 per hour, plus overtime. Prior to the lawsuit, they were making a fraction of that amount. Their compensation will go from $1,250 per season to about $3,200 per season. They will be paid for their rehearsals, practices, and any mandatory appearances at events. Instead of receiving a paycheck at the end of the season, they will receive paychecks every two weeks. They will also be allowed a 10 minute break during games.
Raiderettes will also receive $2,500 in back pay and penalties for the 2013-2014 season, as well as $6,000 in back pay for each of the three seasons before that. They will receive less in back pay for last year, because after the lawsuit was filed, the team increased the cheerleaders’ pay. Currently, there are other wage-related lawsuits pending involving lawsuits by cheerleaders for other teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Bills, the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This lawsuit illustrates how important it is for employers to obey employment laws. Currently, in California the minimum wage is $9 per hour. Employees are entitled to breaks during their shifts, and must be paid for all hours for which they are required to work. They should be reimbursed for required expenses, and should be paid mileage when they are required to be at another location away from their primary workplace. Just because the Raiderettes position is a highly-desired part-time position which usually leads to more opportunities doesn’t mean that the team can get away with violating employment laws.
If you believe that your employer is violating your legal rights, it’s critical that you speak with an attorney. In many cases, employers will continue to take advantage of employees until they are held legally accountable, as in the case of the Oakland Raiders. If your employer is failing to pay you minimum wage and overtime, failing to provide you with lunch breaks or other breaks, doesn’t reimburse you for expenses or mileage, requires you to be at work on your off-time without paying you, or takes other, similar actions, you may have a case against your employer.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that employers should not be able to get away with breaking the law. If your legal employment rights have been violated in the San Francisco Bay area, including Oakland, Hayward, Tracy, Fairfield, San Jose, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She will be happy to provide you with a free consultation on your case. Call to learn more.