The “Raiderettes”—the Oakland Raiders Cheerleaders—are suing the organization.
(Go ahead and giggle, guys. And may you someday have cheerleader daughters.)
And the suit actually, for once, has nothing to do with sexual harassment. So that’s a step in the right direction. Instead, current and former cheerleaders are suing for wage theft and other unfair employment practices, including not paying the women for time worked, and not compensating them for their business expenses.
(And if you DO have a cheerleader, or dance, or pom, or pageant daughter, you know just how much that top shelf hairspray can be.)
This is a huge step back for the squad, which includes a lawyer, several business owners, a software sales executive, and a Ph.D. candidate in biochemical engineering. The suit alleges that the women’s pay is withheld until the end of the season, if they are paid at all, and if they are, it is $1,250—TOTAL—an average of $5 an hour if you count rehearsals, hair and makeup time, travel, photo shoots and performing—and that’s not counting appearing at events for which they are not compensated.
According to the Raiders’ website, the “Standard” event appearance charge is $400 per cheerleader, for four hours. Soooo, even if the organization takes, let’s say 50%, that’s still $50 an hour per cheerleader. Hmmmm.
Allegedly the Raiders owe not only unpaid wages to current and former cheerleaders, but penalties under California labor law.
Now, I did my fair share of cheer activities as a girl; ditto ballet and pageants. There is a certain cache to being in the spotlight, which explains why so many girls—and their parents—do it. It also explains 90% of reality shows. Humans like attention.
So, with pro cheerleading being such a competitive activity, but with the potential payoff of stardom, or at least the true thrill of being on the field Any Given Sunday in front of thousands of adoring fans, it’s understandable why so many young women would take a financial hit to do it. It’s the whole, “gotta pay your dues” mentality, performing “when all you’ve got is one thin dime.”
But that doesn’t give a football team (and I bet there are others) the right to completely railroad a group of hard-working women, even if that hard work is done in booty shorts.
As George Benson said in 1979’s “On Broadway”… “One thin dime won’t even shine your shoes.” It didn’t then, it doesn’t now. Some of these ladies are students. Some are moms. Who all need and deserve their fair share of dimes.
The team had no comment. I hope you’ll have a few.