Cheerleader sues American football team for low pay and having to 'buy her own eyelashes'
An American Football cheerleader sues the Oakland Raiders claiming she is paid well under the minimum wage, has to buy her own tights, and that dancers who gain five pounds are benched
An American football cheerleader is suing her team in a California court claiming that she and other dancers are paid barely half the minimum wage.
According to legal papers the Oakland Raiders, an NFL team that has won the Super Bowl three times, also requires cheerleaders to pay for their own tights and false eyelashes.
The case has been brought by a 27-year-old cheerleader who is known as Lacey T because the team traditionally only identifies dancers by a first name and initial to protect their security.
She is a member of the Raiderettes troop, known as "Football's Fabulous Females," that performs during the team's games.
In a statement Lacey T said: "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.
"I hope cheerleaders across the NFL will step forward to join me in demanding respect and fair compensation."
She claims Raiderettes were paid just $1,250 a year which amounted to less than $5 an hour. The minimum wage in California is $8 an hour.
The pay consists of a flat rate of $125 for each home game they perform at but they are not paid for rehearsals and a minimum of 10 other appearances they are required to make including opening shops.
Lacey T also claims the cheerleaders do not get paid for a photo shoot they are required to attend for an annual swimsuit calendar.
According to the complaint cheerleaders who gain five pounds or appear "too soft" forfeit their $125 game fee and have to stay in the locker room.
She also claims they are not paid until the end of the season, have to pay out of pocket for their own travel costs, and face fines for bringing incorrect equipment to work including the wrong pom-poms.
Lacey T, who joined the Raiderettes before the 2013 season, told the San Francisco Chronicle: "I've been dancing for 16 years, and I was paid more for dancing in college than I am as a pro cheerleader. I'm a stay-at-home mom, and every dollar out of my pocket is noticed."
The cheerleader said she previously worked under better conditions as as a dancer for the Golden State Warriors, an NBA basketball team also based in Oakland.
Cheerleaders there were paid between $10 and $14 an hour and did not have to carry out unpaid work, she said.
Sharon Vinick, a lawyer representing Lacey T, said: "It's as if the Raiders' owners believe that the laws that protect all workers in California just don't apply to them, I have never seen an employment contract with so many illegal provisions."
She said that, by contrast, NFL teams give full pay and benefits to the male employees who work as team mascots.
The Oakland Raiders have declined to comment on the case.