The Oakland Raiders are being sued by not one, but two Raiderette cheerleaders in a wage theft suit. The team has reportedly done everything from force them to pay for their own travel to offering condescending advice on how not to end up date raped. Gee, thanks.
Lacy T., the first to file suit, and co-captain Sarah G., who followed her lead, spoke to Salon about their motivations and it’s not pretty. For example, in one of the many allegedly illegal provisions they say their cheerleading contract contains, the Raiderettes receive one paycheck, ONE, for the entire season.
Lacy: For instance, in California, it’s required that you get a paycheck every two weeks. These Raiderettes start their season … in April, and they do not get their one and only paycheck until the following January …
The contract calls for them to get paid $125 for each game. Game days are 10 hours long — they do not get paid the two hours overtime …
According to the contract, they’re not to be paid for practices, they’re not to be paid for charity appearances …
So there are hours and hours and hours, according to the contract, that are put in, that are completely unpaid.
On why Lacy filed the suit in the first place:
Lacy: ... When I first decided to take my contract to this law firm, and all of my fears I guess you could say were confirmed, I knew that I definitely wanted to pursue the lawsuit and make a big change — not only for the Raiderettes, but hopefully for the entire NFL and their cheerleaders. …
I came from an NBA team — I danced with the Golden State Warriors for two seasons, and …they paid us more than the minimum wage. I got paid for every hour I worked, on two-week periods. I had zero out of pocket expenses.
So coming from that and joining the NFL, and with the Raiders, right off the bat I was spending money out of my pocket. Week after week I was traveling to these photo shoots and mini-camp. And it was the point when I said, “Wow, I’ve spent over $500 this month, and I’m not going to even see a paycheck until next year?”
Thanks to their suit, their days as Raiderettes are probably over:
Lacy: I don’t think that we’re going to be welcomed back with open arms.
But being advised on things like how to eat properly in that Raider handbook wasn’t offensive:
Sarah: … The handbook isn’t what’s in question here. I feel the handbook is how every woman should live their life. It’s just like Lacy said — it’s a book of etiquette and how to conduct yourself as a woman.
The women admit that gender discrimination is probably at play in their wage struggle. In comparison, team mascots, who are overwhelmingly male and don't work nearly as much, make $30-65,000 each year. In addition, the pair say that while the Raiders head office have yet to reach out and they’ve received great support from the public, it’s a mixed bag when it comes to their former cheerleading teammates.
Lacy: A lot of girls support me, and understand exactly what needs to change, but they’re too scared to come forward publicly.
And then there are some girls that are really upset. Because you have to understand, they had no idea I was going to do this — and they woke up one morning and they were all over the news. So yeah, I think some of them were a little bit upset about that.
Ultimately, Lacy says she's looking to secure back wages for all of the Raiderettes, including penalties, which could stack up to $10-20,000 per cheerleader over the last four years.
As a Raiders fan, management please pay these women and all of the past and future Raiderettes what they’re owned. Then bring your house into the 21st century. I don’t wan to have to burn the fan gear I have at home, because I really do love my Black Hole beanie.
Image via Getty