A California Assemblywoman (Lorena Gonzales) has introduced a bill that would require professional sports teams to classify their cheerleading squads as employees under California law. The bill would not only protect cheerleaders from workplace abuses, such as failure to pay wages and discrimination, but it would similarly provide cheerleaders with access to numerous employee benefits that they otherwise are not entitled to when classified as “volunteers” or “independent contractors.”
The proposed bill comes on the heels of several lawsuits filed against NFL teams, including the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, where cheerleaders have alleged improper pay practices and workplace abuses.
When asked to comment on her bill, Assemblywoman Gonzales, who was once a cheerleader herself, stated, “NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades. They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage. If the guy selling you the beer deserves a minimum wage, so does the woman entertaining you on the field. All work is dignified and cheerleaders deserve the respect of these basic workplace protections.”