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Are team cheerleaders employees?

A bill proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that would classify cheerleaders as employees under California law and mandate that professional sports teams grant them eligibility for overtime, sick days and other protections was recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill’s intention is to protect the team entertainment from unpaid overtime and other workplace violations that had occurred in the past.

The bill came about in light of the 2014 class-action wage theft lawsuit that resulted in the Oakland Raiders paying a $1.25 million settlement to 90 of its cheerleaders. Two Raiderette cheerleaders had launched the lawsuit in response to the Raiders’ failing to pay minimum wage, withholding of wages and other workplace abuses, such as making the cheerleaders pay for job-related expenses out of their own pockets.

An example of the alleged financial abuse was the allegation that Raiderettes were paid $1,250 at the end of the season, which worked out to roughly $5.00 per hour or less. They are now paid the California minimum wage of $9.00 per hour. Other cheerleaders working for the National Football League are also suing the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Wage theft is a fairly common occurrence in many occupations, but more often that not, it seems to happen to those in low-paying occupations, such as home care aides, table servers, cab drivers and cheerleaders.

Are you a victim of wage theft or other workplace violations? Contact an experienced employee rights attorney to get to the bottom of your case.

Call us today at 916.486.1712 or visit