Professional Sports Team Cheerleaders to be Treated as Employees in California

California Governor Jerry Brown just signed a bill which now requires professional sports teams to treat their cheerleaders like employees.  Previously, these cheerleaders were paid as independent contractors which exempted them from state wage and hour laws.  The cheerleaders will now need to be paid minimum wage and are potentially eligible for overtime depending on the amount of hours worked in a given week.

This law follows on the heels of a lawsuit filed last year by the Oakland Raiderettes who challenged their independent contractor status.  In the lawsuit, the Raiderettes alleged that they were paid less than $5 per hour for appearances at rehearsals, games and appearances they claim they were required to attend.  Additionally, as independent contractors they claimed they were required to pay for their travel to these mandatory events.  The lawsuit settled last year, but similar lawsuits have been filed against professional sports teams in New York and Florida.  New York has also introduced legislation similar to the California bill.

This law will have ramifications for other professional sports teams throughout the country as these teams will likely evaluate the treatment of these cheerleaders as independent contractors, if they are not doing so already.  According to an NBA spokesperson, the NBA already classifies its cheerleaders as employees.

Independent contractor status is being challenged in many industries and is not limited to professional sports teams.   It is likely that other states will follow California’s lead and enact laws making professional sports teams’ cheerleaders employees.

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