Whether you’re a fan of the Raiders or some other football team, the abuses alleged in the recent class-action lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court may be more common than the football industry cares to admit. The suit alleges not only the usual wage theft violations such as no overtime pay, but a laundry list of patronizing and insulting, not to mention illegal, requirements that would cause any feminist to wonder at our lack of progress over the last century.
(Photo Credit: leduardo/Flickr)
The Raiderette behind the class-action suit is know publicly as “Lacy T.” Her suit alleges that the Raiders have violated numerous California employment and labor laws. In addition, some of the practices that constitute wage theft are also especially patronizing, demeaning, and dehumanizing. Behind the scenes, the company is treating it’s own cheerleaders as unloved and highly expendable objects.
In a Timely Fashion
The Raiders seem to feel that if you are working as a Raiderette, you don’t really need a job. Raiderettes are paid once every season, which is nine months after they being attending mandatory practices in preparation for performance. A reasonable person would likely assume that a paycheck received nine months after beginning to work may violate the language that pay must be given to the employee “in a timely fashion.”
More important than receiving wages late, however, is being the victim of employer wage theft. When hours worked are calculated against wages received, Raiderettes are found to be denied overtime pay. Not only that, they are making less then minimum wage.
The company has tried to get around minimum wage and overtime laws by saying that numerous, required events that Raiderettes must appear for work at specific times are unpaid. They can say it all they like; it is still illegal. Examples of these infractions include, but are not limited to, unpaid rehearsals and practices, uniform fittings, photo shoots, and drills. Compulsary but unpaid rehearsals are held two or three times per week.
Fans pay $15 for calendars full of swimsuit-clad Raiderettes on the Raiders’ website. The women are required to show up and pose for the calendar. None of the women are paid.
The lawsuit alleges that the company reserves the “right” to deduct monies from Raiderette paychecks for “infractions.” You can’t reserve the “right” to do something illegal, because you simply don’t have the right to break the law.
Examples of infractions include showing up to mandatory, unpaid rehearsals or practices with the wrong pom-poms or in the wrong rehearsal clothing. And whatever you do, don’t forget your yoga mat.
Insult to Injury
The Raiders require control over the Raiderette’s personal appearance, and may change it after she is hired. That in itself is not so terrible; performers routinely allow their producers and directors to require specific hairstyle and make-up. The Raiders hire professional (and most likely grossly over-priced) stylists to work with the cheerleaders.
The problem is that the Raiderettes are required to pay the stylist’s fees.
As they earn a measly $125 per game, I wonder if the Raiderettes are actually paying for the privilege of working.
There Is Hope
History buffs know the expression, “You cannot govern without the consent of the governed.” Kudos to Lacy T. and the Raiderettes for refusing to be governed by a bunch of law-breaking misogynists in charge of the business side of football.
When people stand up and demand their rights, it seems to empower even more people to do the same. We have laws that are designed to protect employees. Sometimes, however, we must remind our employers and the world that we have these rights. If we don’t, employers will act as if we have already lost them.
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Has an employer you’ve worked for ever broken the law? What happened? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.