When it rains, it pours. This old saying certainly pertains to the Oakland Raiders as of late. Less than a month after concluding their eleventh-consecutive non-winning season, the franchise is now forced to face some legal issues.
A class-action labor complaint was filed against the organization by one of their Raiderette cheerleaders under the alias Lacy T. last week. The lead plaintiff is seeking damages for failure to pay minimum wage, no overtime pay, failure to pay wages in a timely manner, and several other claims. The lawsuit may apply to current as well as former Raiderettes working for the team in the last four years.
|Photo by: Getty Images|
There is no additional pay for the extra work put in off the field.
And to make matters worse, their wages are withheld until the end of the season, where the Raiders can then dock each cheerleader for fines accumulated throughout the year, which can range from forgetting the proper workout equipment to being benched games for gaining weight. These allegations are unbelievable, but what is just as ridiculous is the fact that they would even sign a contract with so many illegal provisions to begin with.
First and foremost, though, does the NFL really need cheerleaders?
It is understood that they are eye candy, and sex definitely sells, but they are completely unnecessary when it comes to the games themselves. It is fine for high school and college ball to have cheer squads, because it adds to the school spirit, but no one really cares about them at the professional level. If we took a survey on why people attend NFL games, I'm sure the number of people that would say they go to check out the cheerleaders would be microscopic. They are not shown much on TV during the broadcasts, so they are essentially invisible to the fans who aren't in attendance regardless.
Simply put, the league can do without them.
With that said, they are employed by their respective teams, and should therefore be compensated as a regular employee. Being an upper echelon cheerleader such as a Raiderette or Dallas Cowgirl is a great honor. It opens many doors for these women in the entertainment business; to get into the modeling industry, or dare I say it, date a successful athlete. Many of them do not mind getting paid meekly, so long as they get the privilege to do what they enjoy doing, and have the chance to try and better their situation through it.
But the bottom line is, a job is a job, and no matter how pointless it might be, they should be paid like anybody else. Athletes and even coaches make millions of dollars. Now that's not to say the role of a cheerleader should be compared to that of the players or coaching staffs, but they are still representing the team brand, yet they're not even being paid what the stadium janitors bring in.
For the record, I'm not trying to pick on the Raiders here, because numerous NFL organizations and various other professional sports franchises compensate their cheerleaders in similar fashion. The Silver and Black just happened to randomly draw the short straw once again. Don't be surprised if other lawsuits similar in nature begin to pop up after this. It's the snowball effect; all it takes is one person to stand up and say something, then everybody else gathers up the courage to do so as well.
And honestly, I hope they do. The National Football League is a money-making juggernaut, raking in billions of dollars each and every year. It's mind-boggling that their franchises are not conducting proper business and obeying the minimum wage laws. The league needs to step in and get this situation fixed before it gets way out of hand.
Once the dust settles, if the NFL decides to do away with it and disband all cheer teams from the league, that's reasonable, and will garner few (if any) complaints from the fans. But in the meantime, do the right thing here. Pay the ladies their due.