California today approved a bill that guarantees cheerleaders receive at least minimum wage for their work. To some that may seem like a no brainer, but up until recently it was common practice for cheerleaders to work for small stipends, and often lose money due to appearance requirements set for to keep their jobs.
Such was the case with the Raiderettes, who became the first NFL cheering squad to take their complaints to court. Initially it was just Raiderette 'Lacy T' who filed the suit and other Raiderettes began lining up to sign onto the suit as well. They would get the protections they wanted from the Raiders along with a $1.25 million settlement.
"I feel a sense of satisfaction knowing this long journey is over and will end happily for 90 women," Lacy T said following the settlement. "I feel very proud about that. I know we're just cheerleaders to people, but we're low-wage workers working for a billion-dollar industry. It shows everyone that one little girl who stood up and said, ‘This is not right,' changed the way the Raiders do business."
That 'one little girl' caused a domino effect with cheer squads across the NFL stepping up to sue their respective clubs for similar compensation.
Among those was the case of the Buffalo Bills whose cheerleaders weren't paid AT ALL and were forced to pay for all their own uniforms as well as hair and makeup. Other team's cheerleaders to since step forward and demand fair compensation are the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New York in particular, with two teams having been sued by their cheerleaders, have introduced a similar bill to the one California has passed.
The California bill, which was approved by the state Senate on Monday and sent to the governor for his signature, will require that cheerleaders be paid at least minimum wage and overtime and sick leave if they work for professional sports teams based in California.
Just like the Raiderettes stepping up and putting their foot down was the first of its kind, this law is also the first of its kind. These things have a way of becoming precedence and spreading rather quickly. I would expect California and New York will be the first of many states to pass similar bills into law.
Befitting this ground breaking law will be in place in the state where Football's Fabulous Females started it all.