By ANDREA HUETE
Four former NFL cheerleaders are tackling the league this week over unfair wages. The four women filed a lawsuit against the NFL and named 26 teams that they say planned to underpay and make salaries non-negotiable. They’re seeking between $100 million to $300 million worth of damages.
Cheerleaders appear in much more than just the games. Some teams plan multiple mandatory events throughout season, that the cheerleaders are required to be at. The routines for the games, as well as halftime performances, are all rehearsed at other points during the week. It is claimed in the lawsuit that there have been instances where NFL cheerleaders were not paid for their mandatory appearances nor their rehearsal time.
This lawsuit is not the first time the cheerleaders have targeted the NFL. In 2014, a class action lawsuit filed by members of the Raiderettes against the NFL’s Oakland Raiders resulted in $1.25 million worth of damages. This 2014 lawsuit also forced a new California law into effect, recognizing professional cheerleaders as employees and providing them with certain ethical benefits such as overtime and sick pay.
Let’s break down these numbers. The NFL has 32 teams that have a combined value of $74.8 billion in 2016 according to Forbes. NFL players made $6.4 billion of that value in 2016. NFL mascots are on salary with benefits and can earn between $25,000 and $60,000 per year. NFL cheerleaders are on an hourly pay, with the highest of that pay going to the team captains at $15 per hour.
It doesn’t stop there. Just as the players can get fined, the cheerleaders can get fined too. NFL cheerleaders receive a lump sum for their efforts at the end of the season with fines taken out. With such a small wage to begin with, none of the cheerleaders are pulling a Odell Beckham, Jr., and writing the NFL a check for $50,000.
Most of these beautiful girls are using this extremely demanding job as a supplement to another job, or even school.The 2017 Pro-Bowl cheerleaders contained graduates in industrial engineering (Ravens, Dana), business marketing (Buccaneers, Chelsea), psychology (Patriots, Hannah), music business (Titans, Anne), health science (Eagles, Amanda), and Toni of the Denver Broncos even has her masters in counseling psychology … and this is just the pro team! You go girls!
Now that the Super Bowl is over, hopefully the league can turn its attention to the channel of fair wage and equal pay for women.