Oakland Raiders and Cheerleaders Settle Lawsuit Over Wages and Expenses

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2014

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The Oakland Raiders have reportedly reached a settlement with former members of the Raiderettes cheerleading team over a pay dispute.    

Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the news and provided further details Thursday:

Lawyers for the Raiderettes and the football team announced the proposed settlement Thursday and said they would seek preliminary approval Sept. 26 from a judge in Alameda County.

The settlement covers 90 women who worked as cheerleaders between 2010 and 2013. Lawyers said the women would get about $6,000 for each year they worked between 2010 and 2012, and $2,500 for 2013, when the Raiders raised their pay.

Those sums cover all unpaid expenses and minimum wages, plus interest, said Sharon Vinick, a lawyer for the Raiderettes.

"I’m so excited, honestly," said Lacy, one of the plaintiffs in the case, per Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times. "I feel a sense of satisfaction knowing this long journey is over and will end happily for 90 women. I feel very proud about that."

In January, the Raiderettes filed a lawsuit against the Raiders claiming the team was in violation of state laws regarding wages. The U.S. government launched an investigation but found no wrongdoing since the Raiders were considered a seasonal employer, thus allowing them to sidestep federal laws regarding minimum wage.

That ruling, though, had no bearing on the Raiderettes' legal action in regard to California's statutes.

"It's as if the Raiders' owners believe that the laws that protect all workers in California just don't apply to them," said attorney Sharon Vinick, who represented the Raiderettes, per the San Jose Mercury News.

The Raiderettes argued that their base pay of $1,250 a season, which equated to an hourly wage of less than $5, was against the law. The cheerleaders weren't compensated for events and practices they attended outside of Raiders games. Various out-of-pocket expenses and strict fines by the team were also points of contention.

Oakland has since increased the wages paid to Raiderettes members, upping their pay to around $3,000 for the season, roughly $9 per hour.

ORCHARD PARK, NY - AUGUST 09: Buffalo Jills cheerleaders dance during a timeout  at Ralph Wilson Stadium on August 9, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York.Washington won 7-6.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

While this is no longer an issue for the Raiders, other teams are dealing with wage-theft lawsuits brought against them by cheerleaders. The Buffalo Jills and Cincinnati Ben-Gals are among a few who've chosen legal action after what they considered to be unfair wages.

With Oakland deciding to settle, the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals could soon choose to do the same, though that remains to be seen.