NFL Lawsuit Reveals The Shocking Truth About How Much Cheerleaders Get Paid (VIDEO)

Oakland Raiders cheerleaders.

Want a job that pays $1,250 per year, requires attending 300 events, and docks your pay if you forget your pom poms? Join the Oakland Raiderettes. Photo of Oakland Raiders cheerleaders by Tony Gonzales via the team facebook page.

On Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)  told Meet the Press that women had “won” the GOP’s war on women and denied that any wage gap exists. Then again, he has never worked as an NFL cheerleader. Football players for the Oakland Raiders — who all happen to be men — make between 405,000 and $5.8 million per year, as posted by Fox Sports. The Oakland Raiders’ cheerleaders — who all happen to be women — make only $1,250 per year, even though they, too, attend practices and 300 games and events per year.

Cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders make less than $5.00 per hour.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that on Jan. 22, the cheerleaders for the Oakland (CA) Raiders brought a lawsuit against their team for wage theft and unfair labor practices, and filed it with the Alameda County Superior Court. Their lawyer, Sharon Vinick told reporters, “I have never seen an employment contract with so many illegal provisions.”

Not only are the Raiderettes paid less than $5.00 per hour — the state of CA’s minimum wage is now $8.00 per hour — the Oakland Raiders management docks their pay for minor slips like bringing the wrong pom poms, wearing the wrong workout gear to practice, or  — gasp! — forgetting their yoga mats. Plus, there are all sorts of other expenses.

Being an Oakland Raiderette costs a lot of money.

Lacey T., the lead plaintiff, explains that cheering for the Oakland Raiders can also be very costly — and the team does not pay them back for photo shoots, travel, or all that make up.

“The club controls our hairstyle and makeup, and we have to foot the bill. We also have to pay the costs for traveling to all kinds of events, including photo shoots… “

So why doesn’t she just quit? Lacey T. went on to say:

“I love the Raiders and I love being a Raiderette, but someone has to stand up for all of the women of the NFL who work so hard for the fans and the teams.”

If the Oakland Raiderettes win this lawsuit — they seek $100,000 in back pay — this could set a scary precedent for all those tight-fisted NFL team owners. Cheerleaders from other NFL teams don’t make much either. The Richest.Com reports that these women usually get paid $70-$90 per game, and even ones with more experience get only $1,000-2,000 per month.

Here’s a video news report from The Fumble.

[youtube:http://youtu.be/PQLkmd22CsA]

Former Oakland Raiderette: Snitches get stitches.

Not all women from the Oakland Raiders cheering community feel sympathy towards Lacey T. and her claims.  Former Oakland Raiderette Angeleh Johnson, for one, has no patience with what she sees as Lacey T’s disloyalty. During a chat with 99.7 FM morning radio hosts Fernando and Greg, Johnson snapped:

“You get jumped in, you get jumped out. I got jumped out… but in the barrio, when you turn your back on the gang, you get stitches.”

To which, an amazed Fernando or Greg gasped, “You mean … cut?” But Johnson doesn’t back down. She claims that being an Oakland Raiderette is just a hobby, you don’t get paid to do hobbies, and Lacey T. and her team mates should have known that going in.

“We all know when we sign up we’re gonna get paid peanuts, it’s more of a hobby. I don’t get paid for crocheting for my little critters, I don’t get paid for being a Raiderette […] You have to look a certain way, there are weight checks, but that’s how they keep the Raiderettes so glamorous. It’s an honor to be… one of those girls.”

But … being an Oakland Raiderette is NOT a hobby, it’s a job.

The problem with that logic is that — no matter how much you love the Oakland Raiders or any other team, and no matter how ‘glamorous’ it seems — cheer leading is hard work. The women who do it spend years training and practicing; they work hard on their routines and keeping in shape; and — unlike “crocheting little critters” and selling them on Etsy — they have to show up on time and be reliable team players, just like at any other job. Like the  NFL football players they cheer for, the Oakland Raiderettes are elite athletes. And there is not a single person who lives in or near the San Francisco Bay area who would deny that the Oakland Raiderettes are a big factor in attracting people to games. These women also sustain similarly high risks of career-ending injuries. If NFL team owners cannot bring themselves to see their cheerleaders as elite athletes deserving of equal pay to their male, football player counterparts, they should at least pay them a living wage.