A new bill introduced Thursday in the California Assembly would provide cheerleaders of professional sports franchises with employee benefits and a minimum wage guarantee.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced AB 202 on Thursday in “a move that will better protect cheer athletes in the state from workplace abuses and bring equity to the multi-billion dollar professional sports landscape.”
“NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades,” said Gonzalez, herself a former cheerleader at Stanford University. “They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage.”
“If the guy selling you the beer deserves a minimum wage, so does the woman entertaining you on the field. All work is dignified and cheerleaders deserve the respect of these basic workplace protections.”
The proposed legislation comes after Raiderette Lacy T., a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders football team, filed a lawsuit in December alleging the organization does not pay its cheerleaders minimum wage. Lacy T. told NBC News that Raiders cheerleaders are paid $125 per game, or $1,250 for a full season. That comes out to less than $5 an hour when preparation time is factored in. Cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals football teams have filed similar lawsuits.
In September, the Raiders agreed to pay a $1.25 million settlement to 90 cheerleaders who worked for the organization between 2010 and 2013, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. However, some cheerleaders opted out of the settlement, saying it did not do enough to address the underlying problems.
“It doesn’t include the entire NFL,” Raiderette Caitlin Y. told NBC. “It’s a league-wide issue that affects cheerleaders on all teams, not just ours. By accepting this, the NFL gets off the hook.”
Gonzalez’s bill would ensure cheerleaders receive minimum wage and compensation for expenses incurred during the course of performing their jobs. California’s minimum wage is $9 per hour.
Gonzalez told the Union-Tribune she had not yet spoken to the NFL teams about her bill.
In November, a cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens was carted off the field after suffering neck, back, and head injuries while performing a routine.