Capitol Alert

California bill would classify NFL cheerleaders as employees

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, in her days as a Stanford cheerleader (second from left) in September 1991.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, in her days as a Stanford cheerleader (second from left) in September 1991. Courtesy of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s office

Two, four, six, eight, cheerleading leads assemblywoman to legislate!

Drawing on her background as a collegiate cheerleader at Stanford, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, has authored a bill offering more workers’ protections to women who rally professional sports teams from the sidelines. Assembly Bill 202 follows allegations of labor violations by cheerleaders associated with National Football League teams.

Former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders filed a lawsuit alleging that they were denied full pay. A Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader sued for being paid what she said was less than minimum wage. The Oakland Raiders have faced multiple lawsuits from former cheerleaders alleging they were underpaid, with one leading an Alameda Superior Court judge to hand down a $1.25 million settlement.

By treating cheerleaders as employees under California law, AB 202 would extend labor laws covering areas like minimum wage and overtime work to cheerleaders who work for California-based teams. There are currently NFL teams in Oakland, San Francisco and San Diego. At its heart, Gonzalez said, the issue entails misclassification of employees.

“If you look at California law, it is clear given what these girls are signing as far as contracts they’re being treated as employees if not compensated as employees,” said Gonzalez, who briefly considered trying out to be a Golden State Warriors cheerleader in college before concluding the pay wouldn’t cover the costs.

The bill also addresses an issue of gender equity, Gonzalez said.

“Every person you come in contact with – the guy who parks your car, the ticket taker, the guy who sells you the beer, the guy who cleans up after you, the coaches, the trainers, the players – they’re all getting paid for their work, and the only people not getting paid for what they’re doing is the group of women,” Gonzalez said.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.