Cheerleaders were paid far less than minimum wage while working for the
departing Oakland franchise
Oakland, CA – May 10, 2017 — Today, the proceeds from a $1.25 million settlement was distributed to nearly 100 women who worked as cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders, known as the Raiderettes from 2010 to 2014. This class action suit was the first lawsuit filed on behalf of cheerleaders in the NFL. The lawsuit claimed the Raiders failed to pay their cheerleading squad minimum wage for the hours they worked, failed to pay overtime, and failed to reimburse thousands of dollars of incurred expenses.
“Our clients have now been paid the equivalent of minimum wage for all of the hours they worked and have been reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses,” said Sharon Vinick of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP, attorneys for the class members. “It is important to note that paying these women minimum wage doesn’t represent the value that these hard-working women bring to the Game Day Experience,” Vinick added.
Under the terms of the settlement, individual class members will receive an average of $7,500 each, although women who danced as Raiderettes for multiple seasons will receive over $20,000. The delivery of these settlement funds marks the end a case that lasted three and a half years and was the catalyst for similar wage theft lawsuits against four other teams in the National Football League.
The class action suit, filed in January 2014, was brought by Lacy T. and Sarah G., two Raiderettes whose identities are protected in keeping with Raiders policy. The case set off a cascade of similar lawsuits around the NFL by football dance squads who claim that they are underpaid for their labor. As a result of these lawsuits, it now appears that teams across the NFL have adjusted their pay practices in order to ensure that women currently working as cheerleaders are paid according to the law.
“I never dreamed that my decision to find a lawyer and file a lawsuit would lead to the kind of sweeping changes we have seen for the women of the NFL,” said Lacy T., who was among the first NFL cheerleaders to speak out publicly against the wage and hour violations. “It’s pretty breathtaking. But as a mom, it makes me proud to know I’ve stood up for myself, other women, and my daughters.”
“Frankly, it is our belief that gender discrimination played a strong role in this case, by the sheer fact that nearly every other person employed by teams in this league, including the mascots, are paid significantly more. The NFL and its franchises simply don’t value the work done by women,” added Vinick.
“Once these two women had the courage to step forward and challenge the illegal wage practices of the Raiders, there was an avalanche of cases brought against professional football teams,” continued Ms. Vinick. “This led to sweeping changes in the way that professional cheerleaders are compensated, as well as a national conversation about wage theft.”
The cheerleaders in the class action are represented by Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP. The firm is Oakland-based and specializes in representing employees. With nearly 100 years of combined legal experience in Oakland, the firm’s commitment to the community stands in stark contrast to the Raiders…a team that has chosen to desert their loyal fans.
The legal case proceeded as follows:
- The lawsuit covered women who worked as Raiderettes from January 22, 2010 through the 2013-2014 season.
- The parties reached a settlement in July of 2014, which was approved by Judge Carville of the Alameda County Superior Court in February 2015.
- Following court approval, one of the class members filed an appeal.
- The California Court of Appeals ruled in December 2016 that the settlement was fair, adequate and reasonable.
- In March 2017, the California Supreme Court declined to review the case, bringing an end to the litigation.
The partners of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP have, collectively, represented plaintiffs in employment cases for almost a century. Our current practice reflects our commitment to helping employees remedy problems that have occurred in the workplace. We represent employees in state and federal courts, as well as in arbitration and mediation.