At this time of the year, the majority of news stories relating to professional football all center around a single topic: the Super Bowl. Indeed, if you were to go to any sports website, listen to any sports radio station or turn on any sports-themed network, you would undoubtedly encounter some sort of discussion about the impending matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.
As it turns out, however, a non Super Bowl-related football story has managed to generate headlines this week and, even more interesting for our purposes, it focuses on wage and hour laws.
Last Friday, a class action lawsuit filed against the New York Jets by 52 of the team's cheerleaders alleging violation of the state's minimum wage law was resolved after a judge finalized the terms of a $325,000 settlement.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed back in May 2014, the women who worked as part of the Jets Flight Crew from 2012 to 2014 were only paid a flat fee of $150 per game and $100 per event. Furthermore, the complaint alleged that they were uncompensated for hours spent practicing, exercising and undergoing beauty treatment in furtherance of the job, and encouraged to buy gifts for fellow cheerleaders.
It went on to claim that some of the dancers not only posed for a team calendar without pay, but also had to buy their own copies and take the initiative of selling them on their own to fans.
Breaking the numbers down, several experts indicated that the cheerleaders were paid a mere $4 per hour, well below what was then the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour in New Jersey.
As part of the settlement, all cheerleaders who worked for the team during the aforementioned timeframe will receive an amount close to $2,500 with those who posed in the calendar being paid another $400 per appearance.
It's worth noting that this is the fourth such class action lawsuit to be settled, as the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all reached agreements with their cheerleaders over inadequate wages. The Buffalo Bills have also been hit with similar legislation, but have yet to settle.
It will be interesting to see if the cheerleaders for the NFL's other 27 franchises decide to take similar action. Stay tuned for updates.
If you believe that your employer has failed to pay you the appropriate wage, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and your options.