If you watch any NFL game or attend any NFL game, the latter of which isn’t possible in Los Angeles (yet), you will see field goals and touchdowns; big hits and amazing plays; and, of course, the cheerleaders chanting and dancing on the sidelines. These cheerleaders work very hard to become members of their respective teams, and they have many commitments that they have to fulfill over the course of an NFL season.
However, the NFL barely pays these cheerleaders the wages they deserve — and in some cases, their payment structure may not obey state laws. The Oakland Raiders, a former Los Angeles team (and rumored LA-bound team), have been sued by their cheerleaders who claimed that before this year, they were only paid a flat $125 fee for a gameday appearance — and even though they were required to show up to other obligations, they were not necessarily or specifically paid for those appearances.
The NFL has launched an incredible, and seemingly unaware, defense that claims they are not subject to state labor laws and, therefore, cannot be sued for violating such laws. Of course, this seems a ridiculous claim to make because, as the attorney representing the cheerleaders noted, it would then make the NFL exempt to all labor laws, which clearly isn’t the case.
However, it is a claim the NFL is making, and it is one that is unlikely to stick. The number of cases involving the NFL and its cheerleaders is growing, and there could be a major change in this employee-employer relationship in the near future.
Source: New York Business Journal, “In cheerleader suit, NFL claims it is exempt from state labor law,” Aug. 21, 2014