In January, some members of the Raiderettes sued the Oakland Raiders, alleging that they were paid less than $5 an hour, denied overtime, expected to practice several times a week for free and subjected to bizarre fines by the team. They also had to abide by this ridiculous fucking etiquette guide, which instructs one one how to shake hands with a person and how not to get date-raped.
Now, as Amanda Hess reports at Slate, they've won two small victories: firstly, the Raiders have quietly announced on their website that the Raiderettes will now be paid $9/hr, in keeping with California's minimum wage; secondly, Caitlin Y., a plaintiff in one of the suits against the Raiders, has been redrafted into the squad. This makes her the first pro cheerleader to simultaneously cheer on the sidelines and speak out against unfair practices. Hooray?
However, this still leaves a lot to be desired: a lot of the allegations in the January suit have still gone unanswered (a second suit was filed earlier this month that targets the NFL in addition to the Raiders and makes similar claims). In both lawsuits, the Raiderette squad members allege that they are systematically denied both overtime pay and compensation for their work expenses — which are extremely high, as they're required to fastidiously maintain their hair, makeup, nails, tans, etc. (one of the original complainants says she spent $650 in one season; the second complaint claims that squad members can spend up to $3,000 - $4,000). The second complaint also alleges that Raiderettes are routinely chastised and mocked for their physical appearances and that they forced to participate in events — with little or no compensation — that involve "inappropriate and/or degrading comments and groping from often-inebriated attendees." (Sadly enough, none of this vile treatment is that surprising.)
So, yeah. While it's nice that the Oakland Raiders are no longer participating in wage theft, there's still a staggering amount of sexist, exploitative bullshit that professional cheerleaders must put up with. Hopefully, though, the wage increase is a sign of coming change.
Image via Getty.