SACRAMENTO–California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill 202 today to treat cheerleaders of professional sports teams as employees under California law, a move that will better protect cheer athletes in the state from workplace abuses and bring equity to the multibillion-dollar professional sports landscape.
Recent attention to the issue from lawsuits brought by cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills have reported that, in addition to sub-minimum wage pay, cheerleaders have been forced to spend significant personal funds and work unpaid overtime – practices that would be illegal under the law but were found to be commonplace pressures on teams’ cheerleaders despite the tremendous profits being gained by the teams they cheered for.
“NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades. They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage,” said Gonzalez, a former collegiate-level cheer athlete who served as a labor leader before assuming elected office in 2013. “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 Lacy T. et al v The Oakland Raiders class-action complaint filed in 2014 outlined a stunning system of abuses against cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders stemming from the team’s misclassification of these cheerleaders.
AB 202 would explicitly require that professional sports teams provide cheerleaders with the same rights and benefits as other employees, protecting against the sort of financial and personal abuses that have been reported throughout the country.