Lauren Herington, a former Milwaukee Bucks cheerleader, has filed a lawsuit against the team, claiming pay to her and other cheerleaders violate federal minimum-wage laws.
The lawsuit, which was filed last week and includes other unnamed former Bucks employees, says the dancers earn "about half" of Wisconsin's $7.25 minimum wage, per the Associated Press (via ESPN).
Herington claims in addition to substandard pay, she and other employees were forced to make uncompensated appearances and maintain beauty regimens for which they were not repaid.
"We treat all of our employees fairly, including our Bucks dancers, and pay them fairly and in compliance with federal and state law" Bucks spokesman Jake Suski said in a statement. "We believe the lawsuit to be without merit and will contest these allegations in court."
As noted by Brendan O'Brien of Reuters, dancers received flat rates of $65 per game, $50 for special appearances and $30 per practice. Attorney Scott Andresen said the pay amounted to roughly $3.50 to $4.50 per hour, and the dancers were not given extra pay if forced to work beyond 40 hours in a week.
"They are indentured servants with pom poms," Andresen said, per O'Brien.
This suit continues a trend set by former NFL cheerleaders, who have earned millions in settlements after claiming they were underpaid. The Oakland Raiders paid $1.25 million and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers $800,000 to former workers in settlements.
Herington and her co-plaintiffs are asking for compensation for back overtime pay and other unpaid wages. She has filed for class-action status, which would allow more to join the complaint.
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