Basketball fans in Massachusetts may be familiar with the Milwaukee Bucks. Although the job of being a sports cheerleader may seem appealing, behind the cameras, the job may not be as good as it seems. A woman who was a cheerleader for the team has filed a claim against the National Basketball Association team in a federal court for violations of wage and hour laws.
The plaintiff alleges that she would work anywhere from 30 to 40 hours in any given week. She was a cheerleader for the team for just one season. When she worked over 40 hours, she claims that she did not get paid overtime, and she was paid below the minimum wage, only making between $3.50 to $4.50 per hour. The women apparently also lost money out-of-pocket because they were responsible for complying with the team's appearance policy, which required trips to the salon along with other maintenance.
The cheerleaders were also paid for other activities that they performed. For each special appearance, they were paid $50. For home games, they received $65, and for each practice they attended, they received $30. According to the complaint, this was not adequate compensation because the cheerleaders were to practice five to 10 hours each week and go to work-out sessions that could be another 15 to 20 hours per week. Before each of the games, they also were allegedly to appear two and a half hours before the game started.
This is not the first time that cheerleaders have accused sports teams of wage theft. Recently, lawsuits were filed against teams in the National Football League, which ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. This lawsuit is accusing the Milwaukee Bucks of violating Wisconsin wage and hour laws as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act. Massachusetts workers in similar situations who have questions or concerns about the way that they are being paid should consult with an employment law attorney to determine the next course of action.
Source: duluthnewstribune.com, "NBA cheerleader files minimum wage lawsuit against Milwaukee Bucks", Brendan O'Brien, Sept. 25, 2015