Cheerleaders for professional teams in California might soon receive minimum wage as well as overtime and sick leave if the governor signs a bill that has already been approved by the state Senate.
The legislation is believed to be the first of its kind in the country and a similar bill was also introduced in New York this year.
The focus on the payment of cheerleaders came after a number of lawsuits against NFL teams alleging the teams did not pay cheerleaders for time they spent practicing or for public appearances. Attorneys for some of the cheerleaders say the new legislation is good but laws already exist that make it clear that cheerleaders are employees of NFL teams and are entitled to minimum wage.
According to Sharon Vinick, an attorney who represented former Oakland Raiders cheerleaders in a lawsuit against the team, the former cheerleaders were paid $1,250 per season in a contract that also included hours of unpaid rehearsals, as well as charity and commercial appearances. Broken down, the $1,250 salary translated to less than five dollars per hour.
The Raiders’ representatives have yet to comment on the situation, saying the lawsuit should be handled by league arbitration, and the NFL did not comment on the California legislation because cheerleaders are not employees of the league.