The Raiderettes, cheerleaders for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, sued the franchise in a California court Wednesday, alleging that the team failed to pay them for all hours worked and engaged in other unfair employment practices.
According to the suit, the Raiders withheld the cheerleaders’ annual pay until after the season ended and forced them to pay for many of their other expenses, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Their annual salary, according to the suit, is $1,250, which works out to less than $5 per hour worked once games, practice, and other events are included (the California minimum wage is currently $8 per hour). The Raiderettes’ attorney told the Mercury News that the Raiders owe thousands of dollars in back wages to both current and former cheerleaders.
“The club controls our hairstyle and makeup, and we have to foot the bill,” the lead plaintiff told the Mercury News. “We also have to pay the costs for traveling to all kinds of events, including photo shoots… 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.”
The Raiders aren’t the only Bay Area team that has faced wage theft claims. The San Francisco Giants agreed to pay workers $544,715 in back wages last August after a Department of Labor investigation. The Giants found themselves under investigation again in October for allegedly using intern labor improperly. Major League Baseball has previously warned teams to improve their labor practices, saying in a memo to teams that wage theft and other labor violations were “endemic to our industry.”
It isn’t just professional sports. Claims of wage theft have increased by 400 percent since 2000, and more than two-thirds of low-income workers will experience wage theft at some point in their careers, according to one study. Wage theft claims hit a record high in 2011.
The Raiders are struggling financially by NFL standards, but the team still had revenues of $229 million and a $19.1 million operating income in 2013, according to Forbes, which estimated that the franchise is worth $825 million.