Rape culture purists and corporate gigolos get a punch where it hurts — the pocketbook.
The Raiderettes finally got something to cheer about Wednesday.
A $1.25 million settlement against their carpetbagging franchise hit the checking of almost 100 cheerleaders with another payout (a similar suit against against the league) still pending.
The original lawsuit filed on behalf of NFL cheerleaders in 2014 by Raiderette plaintiffs Lacy T. and Sarah G (real names protected, probably a good thing with Mark Davis holding the company phone directory) sparked a Department of Labor investigation into the organization’s cheer policies with regards to wages paid and treatment of members of the cheer team.
Among claims of having bodies scrutinized each week for the slightest trace of fat, mandatory weight and fitness requirements and being placed in numerous humiliating situations including being forced to change into uniform in public and making promotional appearances in which they were “groped by inebriated men”—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 from 2010-14.
Most of the Raiderettes should receive a sum of around $20,000. Small pittance for the torture these women had to endure in thigh-high boots.
The Raiderettes’ cheerleader handbook shows the “girls”, who are referred to as “football’s fabulous females”, how to do everything from flirting with the fan base (“You probably looked at their hair, jewelry, facial expressions, style of clothes, shoes and nails. Smile, shake hands with everyone.”), to getting out of eating dinner like a lady do (“If you don’t like your meal, try a little of everything and strategically move the rest around your plate.”)—all while raking in $1,250/season, almost enough to buy this 1997 Geo Metro free and clear. That’s 10 games, plus three practices per week, plus 10 public appearances, plus charity events and a calendar shoot.
A little taste of ’70s sexploitation AND wages of that era in 2014.
“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 attorney for the cheerleaders Sharon Vinick of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP. “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.”
Similar lawsuits filed on behalf of other NFL dance squads including against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Bills, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets are making their way through the courts.
An additional lawsuit also filed in 2014 by Raiderettes Caitlin Y. and Jenny C. named the league itself. Caitlin’s and Jenny’s lawsuit filed against the Raiders in Alameda County Superior Court makes the same allegations as their contemporaries: they were paid less than the law requires and did not receive overtime or travel or personal care reimbursement. The pair of plaintiffs went a step further and alleged the league enabled its franchises to underpay and discriminate.
The NFL requires all contracts with non players to be filed with the league, said Drexel Bradshaw, Caitlin’s and Jenny’s attorney, which makes the league directly responsible for recompense.
The suit also says it’s not just about the money owed: Caitlin and Jenny assert they were subjected to “degrading comments” and “grueling working conditions” (see: above) as well as the having to tread in the general unseemly waters of the misogynistic NFL culture.
…A culture that is not rampant in all professional sport. Original plaintiff Lacy T., who also danced for the Golden State Warriors, points out the discrepancy in pay and treatment between the NBA and NFL in this Salon Q&A.
“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,” she said in the statement from her lawyers. “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.”