Wages claim exposes cheerleaders’ relations with players

Following on from Ellen Inglis’ piece on Kerry Miller, the Burton Albion Football Club administrator who sent ‘sexy selfies’ to players half her age, comes a tale from ‘football’ on the other side of the Atlantic, of players, cheerleaders, rules and mild condescension.

The Oakland Raiders, with their skull and crossbones logo and rabid fans, are a well-known brand in the US, even if their performances on the field in recent years have been more Pirates of Penzance than rampant invaders. The Oakland Raiderettes, the team’s cheerleaders, have nonetheless kept the flag flying, the dancing going, and the pom-poms doing whatever it is pom-poms do. According to a case recently filed for the Raiderettes, however, it now transpires that the team’s management has allegedly failed to pay them the minimum wage and/or made unlawful deductions from their wages.

The LA Times picked up the story, about which you can read more here. Raiderettes are apparently expected to attend at least 10 ‘home’ games as a cheerleader, together with 10 charity functions and one ‘ticket sales’ event, for the combined salary of $1,250 each for the year (although we should note that they also get two free tickets to each home game). That $1,250 also covers all meetings, practices, rehearsals, drills, workouts and photo sessions as required by the Raiders. It is alleged that, when all of these hours are added up, effective hourly remuneration drops well below $5 per hour – the current minimum wage in California is $8 per hour, rising to $9 in July. We shall see – it hardly seems worth the Raiders’ effort of arguing the point, but maybe there is some issue of principle at stake here.

The more interesting point, particularly given Ellen’s article, is the ‘Raiderette contract’ attached to the lawsuit filing, and the alleged ‘Raiderette Handbook’ sent to the LA Times, a copy of which was not disclosed with the lawsuit. Both of these documents contain a number of faintly surreal provisions in their fight to ensure that Raiderettes uphold the team’s standards of behaviour and appearance. For example, it is a condition of the contract that a Raiderette has not previously posed nude or semi-nude – given that the Raiderettes’ own website advertises the Raiderettes’ “spicy and steamy” swimsuit calendar front and centre, this seems slightly hypocritical, though as a means of ensuring a healthy press interest in your case, adding it to your court filings would seem to have few equals.

In addition, a charming section on the cheerleaders’ non-fraternisation with players explains in detail why “excessive and/ or improper fraternization with Club players or personnel will be grounds for dismissal“, namely:

  • There have been a few relationships between the two groups that have resulted in a few happy marriages and lovely children. HOWEVER, we have also had more situations where, quite frankly, the Raider organization and the Raiderettes narrowly escaped ruined reputations“;
  • one [prior] example concerns a player who gave Halloween parties every year and many of the Raiderettes attended. This same player …. was arrested for date rape. [Just] think how narrowly you missed having your photo in all the local papers and/ or being assaulted“;

and the not remotely demeaning:

  • make a point to find out if a player is married…..in most cases, he won’t tell you! there’s not a female alive … who doesn’t like attention. But you need to learn to deal with attention … without it getting out of hand or going to your head“.

We have to save the final word for the conclusion to the non-fraternisation section:

“Do not

  • become the topic of conversation in the locker room and/or by the staff. We eventually hear everything“.

As true in rainy Burton as in sunny California – if only Ms Miller had received the same warning.