We often read about the multi-million dollar contracts professional football players sign every year. The story goes that if a player has performed well or shows great potential, franchises will pay huge sums of money to sign that player. In fact, there is a salary cap in place to keep teams from paying players too much.
However, the same cannot be said for the women cheering on those players. In fact, according to a recent lawsuit filed by a group of former NFL cheerleaders, NFL teams allegedly engage in practices that suppress the earning potential for cheerleaders.
The lawsuit states that cheerleaders commonly earn as little as $125 per game, or a total of just $1,250 for all the home games in a season. Further, they argue that they aren’t fully compensated for rehearsals and required appearances in public.
As if to add insult to injury, the lawsuit says that fines taken from a cheerleader’s paycheck further marginalize their wages. It was also noted that the paychecks are only issued at the end of the season.
The women who filed the suit argue that these are uniform practices among at least 26 of the 32 teams in the NFL, and that such practices are unlawful and unfair. This problem is hardly isolated, either. Numerous lawsuits have been filed in the past citing wage violations involving cheerleaders in the NFL.
This case highlights a troubling practice seen in highly competitive industries. Companies or groups have been accused of working together to collectively lower the salaries of certain jobs. Doing so eliminates competition because there is no benefit to switching employers. It also makes it seem normal to underpay workers.
It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit is resolved. In the meantime, workers who suspect similar wage violations by their employer would be wise to consult an attorney right away. A legal representative can investigate claims and help employees fight for the compensation they deserve.