Professional sports leagues in the United States have faced a rash of lawsuits in the past year, many of which involve allegations of labor law violations. Both the San Francisco Giants and the Miami Marlins faced lawsuits from former unpaid interns who claimed they should have received a minimum wage as employees. The Giants further agreed last year to pay a group of security employees over $500,000 for various labor law violations. The most recent professional sports team to garner national attention for possible labor law violations is the Oakland Raiders.
The lawsuit was filed by Lacy T., who is part of the cheerleading squad for the team, known as the Raiderettes (for safety purposes, cheerleaders only reveal their first names). Both current and former cheerleaders have joined in the class-action suit, which alleges several wage and hour violations against the football organization.
The plaintiffs claim the Raiders violated state labor laws in the following ways:
- The cheerleaders were expected to work more than eight-hour shifts without necessary breaks or overtime compensation, violating state requirement for meal and rest breaks, as well as overtime laws.
- The Raiders withheld pay until the end of the season, violating California laws regarding paydays and pay periods.
- That paycheck at the end of the season paid $125 per game for 10 games, which adds up to only $1,250 for 9 months of work, including 3 rehearsals per week, workouts, fittings, event appearances, photo shoots, and other mandatory meetings. Overall, the pay comes out to approximately less than $5.00 per hour for a season’s work, which violates California’s minimum wage laws.
- The Raiders require the cheerleaders to pay for their own expenses related to required hair styling, makeup, and travel.
- The Raiders further unlawfully deduct from a cheerleader’s paycheck for minor infringements, such as chewing gum, bringing the wrong set of pom-poms to practice, or wearing the wrong type of outfit to rehearsal.
After all of these alleged violations, many Raiderettes do not even break even for the season.
The federal Department of Labor (DOL) has recently involved itself in the lawsuit by launching an investigation into violations of federal labor laws. The DOL is apparently looking into how several other teams treat their cheerleaders, as well. If the DOL finds that the Raiders violated federal employment laws, they have the power to order the organization to reimburse the cheerleaders for twice the amount of compensation they were originally denied. For this reason, the Raiders may end up paying significantly more than if they had simply followed labor laws to begin.
Some employers, such as professional sports organizations, believe they are above labor laws and do not have to follow them. However, cases like this demonstrate that employment laws apply to professional sports teams like any other employer, and the Raiders may face the consequences like any other company.
If you believe your employer has violated any wage, hour, or other labor laws, contact the Pershing Square Law Firm for assistance today.