Pro Cheerleaders Are Now Classified As Employees In California, Finally Guaranteeing Them Fair Pay
If I asked you whether or not professional cheerleaders are employees, you would probably say yes. If you said that yesterday morning, though, you would have been incorrect — and if you're anywhere outside of California, you still sort of are. On Wednesday afternoon, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law classifying professional cheerleaders as employees, thereby entitling them to sick leave, overtime pay, and a minimum wage. And it's about time, because seriously. How on was that not the case already?
The bill, AB202, won't officially take effect until 2016, and as a result cheerleaders in California this season are still most likely going to remain over-worked and under-compensated. But starting next year, teams will be required to give them something more resembling fair treatment.
The new law comes after a high-profile lawsuit filled by the Oakland Raiderette cheerleaders against the Oakland Raiders alleging that once practices and mandatory functions were taken into account, they were paid less than $5 an hour, among other complaints. Cheerleaders from multiple other NFL teams have followed suit. The Raiders eventually quietly agreed to pay the women minimum wage, which in California is $9 an hour. However, it's still important to make sure they can't ever go back on that decision, and that other sports teams won't be able to pull the same shenanigans.
Because $5 an hour? From a $10 billion industry?
Of course, since this law only applies to California, that still doesn't solve the underlying problem. The most efficient way to solve the widespread problem of cheerleaders being underpaid would be for the NFL to issue strict guidelines about how teams are expected to treat cheerleaders. But as NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy reiterated after the announcement of the new California law, the NFL does not manage employment of cheerleaders, instead leaving it up to the individual teams.
But although this law only applies to California, and although it doesn't do anything to address numerous other infuriatingly sexist things that cheerleaders allege teams have done as well — and although it remains outrageous that these professional athletes are still only being paid minimum wage — the fact still remains that this is a step in the right direction. Cheerleaders in California are now required by law to receive at least something resembling fair compensation, and it looks like New York state might soon follow in California's footsteps. The tide is turning.
So while it might not be everything, it's still something to celebrate.
Images: Giphy (3)