The New York Jets became the fourth National Football League team to face a lawsuit from cheerleaders Tuesday, when a former cheerleader for the team sued the team in a New Jersey court. The suit is similar to those already filed against the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals in that it alleges violations of minimum wage laws.
According to the suit, filed by a former cheerleader identified as Krystal C and first reported by California’s NBC Bay Area, the Jets paid cheerleaders $150 per game and $100 per appearance at certain non-game events. On game days, the suit says, the cheerleaders worked seven or eight hours a day for the $150 flat rate; work at other events ranged from a few hours to as many as eight for the $100 flat fee.
Krystal C, the plaintiff, told NBC Bay Area that her pay amounted to less than $4 per hour. In New Jersey, where the Jets are based, the minimum wage was $7.25 per hour until December 31, 2013, when it increased to $8.25 per hour.
The complaint also says that the cheerleaders worked other events without compensation. At a “Meet & Greet Day,” the suit says, cheerleaders worked three hours without pay. They were also required to practice at home and spent more time off the clock around rehearsals, amounting to another five-to-ten hours of unpaid work per week.
The suit, similar to the others, also asserts that Jets cheerleaders were required to “maintain a specific personal appearance, including hair style, make up, and nail appearance.” The team required Krystal C, the complaint says, to maintain straight hair even though hers was naturally curly, requiring her to spend approximately $45 per week at a hair stylist. If hair, make up, and travel costs are included, Krystal C told NBC Bay Area, the total compensation dropped to less than $2 an hour.
Krystal C is seeking class action status to represent other former cheerleaders in the suit, which asks the court to make the Jets pay back-wages to all members affected by the potential violation of the state’s minimum wage law.