Published on:

Jets Settle Cheerleader Overtime Claims for Six Figures

Women can spend a lot of money on makeup, hair care, and hygiene. It’s normally considered a personal expense, but if part of a woman’s job requires her to wear makeup and do her hair, then the costs associated with it should be considered business expenses.

Cheerleaders for football teams in the NFL have traditionally been classified as independent contractors, despite the fact they allegedly don’t meet the qualifications for an independent contractor. Because the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not extend to independent contractors any of the protections it affords employees, the FLSA is very specific about the types of workers that can legally qualify as independent contractors.

Under the FLSA, a worker classified as an independent contractor must be able to make her own hours, control the environment she works in, and wear what she wants to work. She also must cover all the costs of her health insurance, taxes, social security, and business expenses.

Despite the billions of dollars the NFL collects every year, the beautiful women they hire to cheer on the teams from the sidelines are allegedly not seeing much of that money. The NFL has recently been facing a rash of class action lawsuits from their cheerleaders alleging they should be classified as employees and receive all the benefits that entails.

The most recent wage and hour lawsuit was filed against the New York Jets. The class of 52 cheerleaders alleged they were paid only $150 per game and were not paid at all for the time they spent at practices. They were also allegedly required to pay for all their own makeup, hair care, and transportation, which, when everything was added up, meant they were earning less than minimum wage for each hour they worked.

The New York Jets insist they did nothing illegal, but they have agreed to settle the lawsuit in order to avoid the hassle, expense, and distraction of continuing to pursue the legal dispute in the courts. Under the terms of the settlement, which covers the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons, the New York Jets will pay the cheerleaders $2,500 for each season they worked and $400 for each photo shoot they did. All told, the total cost of the settlement will be $324,000.

The class action wage and hour lawsuit against the New York Jets is just one in a string of similar lawsuits against various NFL franchises. When the cheerleaders for one team filed a wage and hour lawsuit against their franchise, it made others aware that they were also being cheated out of wages and other forms of compensation. Many teams have settled their lawsuits, while one team, the Buffalo Bills, simply stopped using cheerleaders after their spirit squad filed a class action wage and hour lawsuit against them in 2014.

As a result of all these lawsuits, Jerry Brown, the governor of California, recently signed a bill that officially classified cheerleaders as employees. A New York state judge has recently allowed a lawsuit to move forward that might bring a similar bill to the state of New York.

The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Dekalb, Yorkville and Paw Paw. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Will, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Sandwich and Rollo overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.