CREDIT: Associated Press/Matt Dunham
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the fifth NFL franchise to face a minimum wage lawsuit Monday, when a former cheerleader alleged in a complaint that the team paid her just $2 per hour.
The wave of lawsuits began in January, when a former cheerleader alleged that the Oakland Raiders had paid her and other cheerleaders less than $5 per hour. Since then, cheerleaders have filed minimum wage lawsuits against the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, and New York Jets.
The lawsuit, filed by former cheerleader Manouchcar Pierre-Val, the Bucs “failed to pay” her “at least the applicable minimum wage for all weeks or hours worked” between April 2012 and March 2013.
According to the complaint (via the Huffington Post’s Dave Jamieson) Bucs cheerleaders are required to attend “at least four to fifteen hours of mandatory practices per week” and arrive four hours before each home game starts. They are also required to do 40 hours of community appearances each year. None of this time is compensated, according to the complaint. The team pays the cheerleaders $100 per game for eight home games each season, “plus limited wages for appearances made at paid corporate events.”
The cheerleaders “are paid far less than the applicable Florida and federal mandated minimum wage in most if not all workweeks,” the complaint states. The Florida minimum wage was $7.67 per hour in 2012 and $7.79 per hour in 2013.
Pierre-Val’s complaint focuses solely on time spent working and does not mention other costs she incurred as part of the job. The other lawsuits have alleged that the former cheerleaders had to spend their own money to pay for hair, makeup, and nails. The suit against the Bills included allegations that the cheerleaders had to use certain personal hygiene products and practices and were subjected to “jiggle tests” to check their weight.
Like the other suits, Pierre-Val’s seeks class action status to represent other Buccaneers cheerleaders who were also underpaid. Pierre-Val filed her suit in federal court, where it may face a major hurdle: the U.S. Department of Labor said in March that Oakland’s cheerleaders are “seasonal” workers who are not subject to federal minimum wage law, a point lawyers in that case have disputed.