Oakland Raiders Feel Heat on Cheerleader Pay
They’re Caving to Raiderettes Demand for Minimum Wage
That may not sound like a major league salary, but it's a big jump for them. They had been making about $5 an hour.
The change was acknowledged only in an audition announcement for new members of the cheerleading team, posted on the team's official website. The announcement was later removed, but its brief existence was reported by NBC Bay Area.
No formal announcement of the salary change has been made.
The raise is a result of a class action lawsuit filed against the NFL team's owners in January by an Oakland Raiderette, named only as Lacy T.
The Raiderette alleged in her suit that she and her teammates were each paid about $5 an hour for working before, during and after each game. They were not paid for drills and rehearsals, and had mandatory but unpaid additional duties including charitable and community event appearances, modeling for an annual calendar, and appearances at parties.
Each of the Raiderettes was paid $125 per game, or a total $1,250 per season, as a lump sum at the end of the season. The change should net them about $3,000 a season.
Other matters raised in her suit, including a demand for back pay and payment of out-of-pocket expenses, are expected to go to arbitration this month.
Lacy T.'s suit has inspired pending actions against other NFL teams, including the Buffalo Bills, Cincinatti Bengals, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The wage actions were surprisingly controversial among fans, and even some cheerleaders reportedly felt that the complaints lacked the appropriate team spirit.
Meanwhile, Lacy T. is not returning to the squad. She told NBC Bay Area that she is moving to London with her husband and their child, but wouldn't have gone back in any case. "I don't think I would get picked for any appearances. I think they'd put me in the back. It wouldn't be worth my time," she said.
In any case, the movement she started goes moves on, too. Last week, a New York judge refused a request from the Buffalo Bills to dismiss a lawsuit brought by five former cheerleaders over their pay and working conditions. That allows the suit by the Buffalo Jills to continue.
Called Football's Fabulous Females, the Raiderettes team for next season was chosen in a final audition held June 30 at a public event sponsored by Bud Light.
The team has posted videos of the finalists on its site.
In another hopeful sign for cheerleaders everywhere, the Raiders redrafted a four-year veteran of the cheerleading squad known as Caitlin Y., who had filed a separate suit. According to a report in Salon.com, Caitlin Y.'s complaint touches on additional issues, including verbal sexual harassment on the job and forced free appearances off the football field. She alleges that the cheerleaders also are routinely fined for offenses like wearing the wrong shade of fake tan, or gaining five pounds.
"I do love being a Raiderette, and I love cheering on a football team. I just want to be compensated legally, and treated with respect," Caitlin Y. told Salon.