Posted January 23, 2014

Oakland Raiders cheerleaders file suit against team

NFL
Members of the Raiderettes say the team withheld pay and treated them bad. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Members of the Raiderettes say the team withheld pay and benched them for gaining weight. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former and current members of the Oakland Raiders cheerleading squad are suing the team claiming theft of wages and other unfair employment practices.

According to the class action lawsuit filed on Wednesday in California, the Raiderettes say that the team withheld all pay until the end of the season, doesn’t pay for all hours worked and alleges that they had to pay for many of their own business expenses.

According to the San Francisco Chroniclethe team also fined the members of the squad who failed to bring the right pom-poms or a yoga mats to practice. Any member who gained five pounds from her weight at the start of the season, or who appeared “too soft” to the squad’s director, was benched for the next home game.

The filing also says that the Raiderettes are paid $1,250 per season, and broken down between the time spent rehearsing, performing and appearing at events, amount to the squad being paid around $5 per hour.

“It’s as if the Raiders’ owners believe that the laws that protect all workers in California just don’t apply to them,” attorney for the cheerleaders Sharon Vinick said. “This is one of the most egregious contracts that I have ever seen.”

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88 comments
MiamiD
MiamiD

As a woman, all I got to say is if you are willing to work for peanuts, that's exactly what you will get!  Dummy up and go on a nationwide strike.  Don't whine about being taken advantage of when you have allowed it for years, and it's not like the team can't afford to pay you what your worth.  I mean really, what would professional football be without their cheerleaders?  Let's find out.....

Joe R2
Joe R2

Mmmmmm..... Raiderettes..... The only pretty thing about that ugly organization.....

swidt
swidt

There weren't THAT many cheers to lead in Oakland this season anyway.

6marK6
6marK6

Hard to imagine that such a well run and successful organization would do these things.

JamesMartin
JamesMartin

They Paid Jamarcus Russel how much?
These gals need to get paid.

TheHip1
TheHip1

The breakdown into an hourly rate is not accurate for 'performance' pay. You are paid for the performance only-not rehearsal time-generally in these types of contracts (like acting for instance). These ladies are getting $125 per game. That's decent for the position I would think

yummypeaches
yummypeaches

It hurts being a Raider fan . I mean seriously the only talent we have on the field , at times the only thing worth watching on the field , is suing . So typical of the last decade .

JohnKoehl
JohnKoehl

Who in the h.ll wants to cheer for the Raiders who have put nothing but garbage on the field for the last 11 years falling some 80+ games under .500 and nowhere near the playoffs. Add to that they now have the privilege of playing in the worse facility in the NFL with games played on a baseball diamond during early season games. Get some people in their young Davis who know what the h.ll they are doing or sell the damn thing to someone who will. Enough is enough.

ConsConTEAParty
ConsConTEAParty

It's silly, because these women choose to cheerlead, and there are many more trying-out than make the team.  But, why shouldn't CA's silly laws apply to the NFL?  I hope they win.

SteveS1
SteveS1

When I first saw this headline, I thought the cheerleaders were suing the Raiders for sucking to badly for so long that it hurt their career opportunities...

MickHayes
MickHayes

Poor Raiders can't catch a break........

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

”This is one of the most egregious contracts that I have ever seen.”

===================

UM, YOU signed it and now you act like a player who thinks they are different than the contract. Please, just get large azz whale mooochie next year so she can tell you what to eat and drink

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

Thats what I like about the raiders even their own cheerleaders sue em. image is everything

Steve Phillips
Steve Phillips

Here is a novel idea. Get rid of em. They add nothing to the nfl experience.

sam_the_man
sam_the_man

Addressing some of the VERY thoughtful comments here on this si.com comments thread:


- They're doing it for the exposure. (with pun semi-intended.)

Ah yes the time honored trope of the entertainment business. True, but also irrelevant.

They are contributing to a product that is sold for billions of dollars. The owners would pay the players peanuts too, (as they actually once did) probably saying that playing in the NFL is great exposure for your future career endorsing deodorant, analgesic rubs, anti-dementia drugs, etc. But the players got wise, formed a union, and got their (maybe) fair share. Just like Broadway, film and TV performners.



- They're doing it to land a rich player as a husband.

Cue the men of tribal Afghanistan, Pakistan and India nodding emphatically.



- Hey it's supply and demand. There's and endless line of women willing to do it essentially for free.

Same thing with the players. See above about the players union. Sometimes a union is needed to save workers from themselves.



- Nobody pays to see the cheerleaders.

Nobody pays ONLY to see the cheerleaders. But how many times do we see them in the course of a telecast? You think it adds nothing? It's part of the product.


- Nobody would miss them.

This, I submit, is WRONG WRONG WRONG. Imagine if somehow the cheerleaders, league-wide, could organize a "Day of No Cheering" (bad title, I know) and strike for one or two games.  You don't think the media wouldn't be ALL OVER that? It would be in heavier rotation on Sportscenter than Richard Sherman.



FACT: these women are in (obviously) phenomenal shape and work as hard as players to stay that way. They are selected from hundreds or maybe even thousands of auditioners. I don't know what a fair salary would be. I'd throw out there maybe $1000/game plus $100/hr for rehearsals and appearances. And a small cut of any revenue from their likeness being used. All of which WOULD BE PENNIES to the billionaire owners.


It'd be long slog to try to unionize the cheerleaders. I'm hoping at least that shear embarrassment will force the owners to step up a bit. But the ultimate truth is that billionaires are NEVER embarassed about keeping as much money as possible for themselves.

life_is_a_sport
life_is_a_sport

Raiders cheerleaders are underrated. Possibly more than any other team's cheerleaders besides the Eagles.

BobSanders
BobSanders

Redskins don't pay their cheerleaders a dime. It's strictly for vanity, fame and "glory." But they mostly do it to try to land players and their $$$.

Beth3
Beth3

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. 

tbost4321
tbost4321

Inexcusable oversight by the Raiders.  If they had stated that their cheerleaders were independent contractors rather than employees, none of this applies.  Considering that their duties were limited to about 250 hours per year and they perform a very specific duty requiring specialized skills, there'd be little disputing that status.  Independent contractors aren't subject to minimum wage laws or reimbursement of business expenses. 

swh114
swh114

I see this ending one way. The Raiderettes will now be an unpaid, volunteer activity.


KevinAustin
KevinAustin

I guess they are not having any luck using cheerleading as a stepping stone to getting pregnant by one of the players.

JerryPeoples
JerryPeoples

When I first read there was a lawsuit by cheerleaders against the raiders I assumed it was over not providing enough material for them to their jobs :/

ianlinross
ianlinross

Is Amy Trask still with the team?

KidHorn
KidHorn

If the Raiders want to save money, they should make it a volunteer position. It's not like they'll have trouble finding volunteers.

Lohikaarme
Lohikaarme

$5 an hour, how outrageous! No wonder the owners demand all those millions and millions of concesions from the cities and the states to keep the teams where they are.

ChadCollins
ChadCollins

And a calendar with the cheerleaders on it its $30

MiamiD
MiamiD

@TheHip1You are crazy.  $1200 per season, and you think that's decent?  Do you even have a job?

CaptCapn
CaptCapn

@TheHip1 Hip, The majority of actors get paid by the DAY, not by the performance.  The girls that take these jobs generally use them as a spring board to other openings in the entertaiment business, but for every hour they are on the feild they have a ton of time and DAYS invested in training, reherarsing, etc.   


With that said, I haven't seen the contract and IF the contract says you are a "volunteer" and the pay is actually reimbursement of expenses for a volunteer position, that is different.


For those that think they should just quit if they don't like it....that is absurd!!!  That's why there are labor laws to prevent employeers from taking advantage of employees.  

ajmayberry
ajmayberry

@TheHip1  Wow...Do you think they just show up gameday and have to make up the routines on the fly? The girls deserve to get paid for all the practice hours too. Gamedays should be bonus money.

fallenchemist
fallenchemist

@ConsConTEAParty

You have to know that makes zero sense.  Most people choose to do the jobs they have, and usually there are many more people applying for these jobs than slots available.  By your logic no one should get paid a decent wage because of these factors?  Those aren't California laws, those are laws everywhere.  You do the work, you get paid.  Before too long it is likely that unpaid internships are going to be outlawed.  Certainly these women deserve to be paid for any time they spend that the team demands as part of the job, which means rehearsals too.  At least the minimum wage, and all expenses associated with the job that are unusual.

Joe R2
Joe R2

@Steve Phillips 


Nah.  I like hot women bouncing up and down during commercial breaks...  I'm going to guess most men agree with me...

Vanakatherock
Vanakatherock

@sam_the_manYou are WRONG on so many levels. It's clear that you have never actually talked to an NFL cheerleader or even an NCAA cheerleader. 


The girls do NOT cheer to "land a rich player as a husband." In fact, there are very few instances of note where a player on the team landed a cheerleader as a girlfriend/wife. None of the girls I know who are NFL cheerleaders ever had interest in the players outside of them simply playing for the team they are cheering for. 


And NO, the girls are NOT cheering for the "exposure" as you claim. They do it because they love to dance. The vast majority of your NFL cheerleaders have previous cheering/dance experience from high school, college, other professional sports (NBA, Arena Football), and look for the opportunity to get to the "next level." As far as I am aware, these girls consider cheering for an NFL team to be the final level of their dancing careers. Most will cheer with the team(s) for a few years before deciding to step away from professional level cheer/dance. 


So please refrain from spreading your sheer ignorance anywhere else on this matter. You are clearly uninformed.

MickPatrick
MickPatrick

@sam_the_manIf you're going to be smarmy and superior, you need better arguments.


"[T]hese women are in (obviously) phenomenal shape and work as hard as players to stay that way." As hard as the players, you say. That seems highly unlikely.


"Hey it's supply and demand. There's and endless line of women willing to do it essentially for free.  --  Same thing with the players. See above about the players union. Sometimes a union is needed to save workers from themselves." It's pretty safe to say that many (perhaps most, if not all) NFL players would be willing to put themselves through so much physical punishment without some form of compensation. It's also pretty safe to say that the number of women who could serve as competent cheerleaders generously exceeds the number of men who could serve as, say , competent NFL QBs. There a substantial difference in terms of both natural ability and training.


"They're doing it to land a rich player as a husband. --  Cue the men of tribal Afghanistan, Pakistan and India nodding emphatically."  You get A+ for political correctness (despite slagging almost a billion men), but I do suspect that some cheerleaders hope to find lasting love and fortune amongst the players. Sadly for folks like you, reality has a way of intruding.



Doug1
Doug1

@BobSandersPlayers are not allowed to date the cheerleaders on most teams.  I would assume it's the same with the Raiders.  I am not saying that the cheerleaders aren't gunning for them, but it's frowned upon by the teams.

yummypeaches
yummypeaches

@swh114As a Raider fan I feel I should be paid . I didn't volunteer for this decade of lousiness ; (

MiamiD
MiamiD

@CaptCapn@TheHip1 They need to get together with the rest of the cheerleaders nationwide and strike!  And form a union if they don't have one.  There's no reason for them to be paid so little....except the fact they have been willing to for years...

sam_the_man
sam_the_man

@Vanakatherock Sorry I should have used quotes, but you're misunderstanding my post. I'm summarizing and responding to the gist of most other posters here. We're pretty much on the same page here. I'll add though that it's irrelevant WHY they (the cheerleaders) are doing this job and whether or not they love it or hate it or what they plan to do after it. My point is they are contributing to the value of a billion dollar enterprise. How much of course is subject to debate. Maybe if they could bargain collectively we'd arrive at the true number.


And btw my last girlfriend was a cheerleader. In Texas. Ok maybe it was when she was in high school. But still.



LeChic
LeChic

@BobSanders$75 per game to be exact. Not a lot, but certainly more than a dime. They also get a free trip every year, usually places like Costa Rica or Dominican Republic, for the photo shoot and for team bonding. This may or may not be worth it to some women.

Vanakatherock
Vanakatherock

@sam_the_man my apologies for the misunderstanding. It just burns me up when people do make the false assumptions and they have no clue what really goes on in these girls' minds.