Raiderette lawsuit accuses team of violating labor laws

An Oakland Raiders cheerleader performs during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013.
January 22, 2014 4:48:13 PM PST
A member of the Oakland Raiderettes cheerleading squad sued the football team in Alameda County Superior Court Wednesday for allegedly being in "flagrant violation" of an array of state labor laws, including failing to pay the minimum wage.

The Raiderette, identified in the lawsuit as Lacy T., claims the Oakland Raiders club doesn't pay the cheerleaders for all the time they spend working, withholds pay until the end of the season, and forces them to pay some of their own business expenses.

The club also allegedly fails to pay overtime, doesn't provide meal and rest breaks, and deducts "fines" of $10 or more from the women's pay of $125 per game for infractions such as forgetting to bring the correct pom-poms to rehearsals, according to the lawsuit.

"The Raiders have blatantly disregarded the fair employment laws," said Sharon Vinick, one of Lacy T.'s lawyers.

The lawsuit seeks to be certified as a class action on behalf of all present and former Raiderettes who cheered for the team since 2010, estimated to total about 100 women.

It asks the court for an injunction requiring the team to stop the allegedly illegal practices, an award of back pay for the cheerleaders and other financial penalties.

Raiders spokesman Mike Taylor said, "We're not going to comment" on the lawsuit.

Vinick said she believes the allegedly illegal practices are widespread among National Football League teams.

Lacy T. said, "I love the Raiders and I love being a Raiderette, but someone has to stand up for all of the women of the NFL who work so hard for the fans and the teams."

"I hope cheerleaders across the NFL will step forward to join me in demanding respect and fair compensation," she said in a statement.

Vinick said the squad members' pay of $125 per home game, or $1,250 per season, amounts to $5 per hour -- well below the $8 minimum wage -- for the time they spend rehearsing, performing and making required appearances at charity events.

Raiderettes are required to work approximately nine hours per day on game days, attend two or three three-hour rehearsals per week and make at least 10 unpaid appearances per year at charitable events, according to the lawsuit.

The charitable events are defined as including both Raider Image store appearances and events for nonprofit groups.

The Raiderettes are also required to pay some of their own business expenses, including the costs of travel to appearances, Raider-approved hair stylists, yoga mats and false eyelashes.

Lacy T.'s unreimbursed expenses for the 2013-14 season totaled $650, the lawsuit says.

Leslie Levy, another lawyer representing Lacy T., said the next step in the case will be a Superior Court hearing on whether the lawsuit can be certified as class action. She said she expected the hearing to take place within three to five months.


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