Minimum wage is now the issue du jour, with wage hike strikes popping up all over the country.
Fast food workers have been holding demonstrations and protests, often times heavily populated and organized by labor unions, in support of minimum wage increases. The most recent campaign was called “Fight for $15,” a nationally organized day of rallying for fast food workers. Many of the protests ended in multiple arrests being made.
The newest members in the fight for minimum wage are NFL cheerleaders.
Most NFL teams hire cheerleaders through third-party contractors. Federal courts have ruled that NFL teams don’t have to pay their cheerleaders a minimum wage because they are viewed as seasonal employees.
Former Buccaneers cheerleader Manouchcar Pierre-Val sued the team in May, in a suit that other former cheerleaders joined in on.
“The lawsuit is not about the money, it’s about equality,” Pierre-Val said. “It’s about the fact that the NFL is a billion-dollar organization and the girls deserve to be compensated fairly.”
An NFL spokesman said each individual team decides what they want to pay their cheerleaders and the league has nothing to do with those decisions, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Former NBA cheerleader Wynne Marie Lacey said these NFL cheerleader lawsuits could lead to more professional sports teams eliminating cheer and dance squads altogether.
“There definitely needs to be conversations” about cheerleaders’ compensation, Lacey said. She fears that some teams will eventually say, “Let’s just make the problem go away.”
And that’s exactly what the Buffalo Bills did. That team suspended its squad after a group of cheerleaders sued over pay and treatment.
Additional lawsuits have been filed by the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Journal reports.
The lawsuits “ruined it for the rest of the girls,” said Lori Marino, a former Bills cheerleader. “They were well-informed going into tryouts that the cheerleader squad wasn’t a paid job. It wasn’t a job at all. It was a sport to be enjoyed.”
And therein lies the rub.
Being an NFL cheerleader seems to be something that is more of a volunteer position, than a high-earning occupation. It’s not a secret among the professional cheerleading world that the job doesn’t come along with a big payday.
These lawsuits are silly. These NFL cheerleaders have entitlement issues, not a compensation problem. And at the end of the day, as former Bills cheerleader Marino said, these lawsuits do more damage than good.
The National Football League is a billion dollar business, yes. And that’s because people pay big bucks to see the football players, not cheerleaders.
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