The NFL football season started this week, and four NFL cheer squads are still in the midst of legal battles over their wages. The Buffalo Bills disbanded their cheer squad after former cheerleaders brought a lawsuit against the team claiming it violated minimum wage laws. The Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are involved in similar legal battles, although their squads are still cheering.
One team, the Oakland Raiders, reached a settlement with former cheerleaders last week. The Raiders began paying cheerleaders minimum wage last year, and as part of the settlement the team will pay $1.25 million in back pay, with the money being divided among 90 women who will each get between $2,500 to $6,000 for each season of cheering.
The lawsuits have stirred a debate over how to fairly compensate NFL cheerleaders. According to the lawsuits, the Bengals were paid $45 per game to work in the stands and $90 if they were on the field. They weren't paid for practice hours and other events. The Buffalo Jills' only compensation was free access to the game and a parking pass. The Jets' squad was paid $150 per game, the Raiders $125, and the Buccaneers $100. Some teams, including the Buccaneers and the Raiders, have since started paying their cheerleaders minimum wage
At the other end of the spectrum are teams like the Seattle Sea Gals and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The Cowboys' squad is paid for practices, appearances, and games. The Seattle Seahawks' cheerleaders are paid an hourly wage for any work they do plus any overtime work as required by law.
You can read more on the issue from the Wall Street Journal
What do you think is fair compensation for NFL cheerleaders? Should NFL cheerleaders be given a larger portion of the money they help the team bring in, or should only cheerleaders looking for the experience sign up to be an NFL cheerleader?