The Cheerleader Who Sued

Lacy T. passed her audition to become an Oakland Raiderette cheerleader a year ago. Professional cheerleaders have a lot of rules to maintain standards and uniformity. She was told what to wear and how to have her hair styled, and must be weighed periodically to make sure she doesn’t gain or lose more than four pounds.  

Long before Lacy's boots ever hit the gridiron grass, "I was just hustling," she says. "Very early on, I was spending money like crazy." The salon visits, the makeup, the eyelashes, the tights were almost exclusively paid out of her own pocket. The finishing touch of the Raiderettes' onboarding process was a contract requiring Lacy to attend thrice-weekly practices, dozens of public appearances, photo shoots, fittings and nine-hour shifts at Raiders home games, all in return for a lump sum of $1,250 at the conclusion of the season. (A few days before she filed suit, the team increased her pay to $2,780.) All rights to Lacy's image were surrendered to the Raiders. With fines for everything from forgetting pompoms to gaining weight, the handbook warned that it was entirely possible to "find yourself with no salary at all at the end of the season."

Like hundreds of women who have cheered for the Raiders since 1961, Lacy signed the contract. Unlike the rest of them, she also showed it to a lawyer.

She filed a lawsuit against the Raiders for paying cheerleaders less than minimum wage, and for other infractions of the California labor code. Some argue that she signed a contract, and that’s it. Others say that employers must follow the law, regardless of whether a worker is willing to accept less. Lacy T. has received both support and criticism for her lawsuit. There’s a lot more to the story that you can read at ESPN. -via Digg

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Someone brought up the "seasonal entertainment" exemption to minimum wage, which was designed to cover students with summer recreational jobs. The difference is that a pro cheerleader's "season" is so long that she cannot hold another job or go to school. When you're making this little money, the position is only open to those who are supported by parents or spouse. Kinda like an internship...
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That is one heck of a class action suit. California law is pretty clear about this sort of thing. The cheerleaders will not qualify as independent contractors, so they must be treated as employees.
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