Cheerleaders to Gain Protections Under AB 202
Introduced on January 29, 2015 by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), AB 202 would require that a California-based professional sports team that utilizes the services of cheerleaders, as defined, to provide those cheerleaders with specified rights and benefits afforded to its employees under existing employment laws, regardless of the terms and conditions under which the cheerleader performs.
Existing law prescribes comprehensive requirements relating to minimum wages, overtime compensation, and standards for working conditions for the protection of employees applicable to an employment relationship.
However, when former Oakland Raider cheerleader (aka “Raiderette”) Susie Sanchez filed suit against the Raiders, she reported she made just $6.50 an hour for her work. That is well below California's minimum wage but the NFL claims it's legal because cheerleaders are “seasonal employees” who aren't subject to state employment protections.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez, a former college cheerleader at Stanford, wants to change that with her proposed bill. AB 202 would add Section 2754 to the Labor Code and require professional sports team to classify cheerleaders as “employees”, thereby offering much more protection from wage discrimination and workplace abuse.
“If you look at California labor law, it is clear given what these girls are signing as far as contracts they're being treated as employees if not compensated as employees,” said Gonzalez, who briefly considered trying out to be a Golden State Warriors cheerleader in college before concluding that the pay wouldn't cover her expenses.
“Every person you come in contact with – the guy who parks your car, the ticket taker, the guy who sells you the beer, the guy who cleans up after you, the coaches, the trainers, the players – they're all getting paid for their work, and the only people not getting paid for what they're doing is the group of women,” Gonzalez said while introducing her bill.
Related California Lawsuits
Last year, one of several lawsuits filed under California and labor law against the Oakland Raiders by cheerleaders who felt they were underpaid, proved successful. To that end, a Superior Court Judge in Alameda approved a settlement valued at $1.25 million.
In Oakland, plaintiffs alleged that the team charged them for their own uniforms, hair and makeup, docked them pay for missed rehearsals and held their pay until the end of the season. Plaintiffs alleged that when all was said and done, cheerleaders made less than minimum wage and were not paid for overtime, an affront to California labor employment law, or so it was alleged.
The latest: AB 202 has been referred to the Committee on Labor and Employment and is scheduled to be heard on April 8, 2015.
To further discuss this case, or a potential claim on your behalf, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.