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NFL Cheerleader Lawsuit Thrown Out
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Summary: A lawsuit filed by a group of NFL cheerleaders alleging unfair wages was thrown out by a judge for lack of evidence.

A lawsuit brought by a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader and a number of other cheerleaders was thrown out by a federal judge for a lack of evidence. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup failed to see the plaintiff’s argument that the NFL and its owners conspired to suppress the wages of its cheerleaders. The only teams left off the lawsuit were the ones without cheerleaders like the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns.


Alsup has given the only named lead plaintiff, Kelsey K., the opportunity to re-file her lawsuit by June 15. Her attorney, Drexel Bradshaw has indicated that they plan on doing such. He said “We’re undaunted,” and have uncovered “significant facts” to help support their case. The lead plaintiff has chosen to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by the team and fans. Bradshaw said, “The women that have publicly stood up against the NFL have been ridiculed publicly. My clients have been harassed for standing up for their own rights. The NFL and its member teams have intentionally conspired together to thwart competition so that they could pay these women illegally.”

In his filing, Alsup stated, “To state an antitrust claim here, plaintiff must plead not only ‘ultimate facts, such as conspiracy, and legal conclusions,’ the complaint must answer the basic questions of who did what, to whom (or with whom), where, and when?”

The lawsuit was seeking a class action status on behalf of all NFL cheerleaders. They claimed that cheerleaders were given a flat, per-game fee. The cheerleaders involved in the suit were claiming they were paid around $100 a game with often no compensation for rehearsals or other mandatory public appearances. The suit also states that the NFL conspired to prevent cheerleaders from seeking positions with other professional cheerleading teams or from comparing their wages with each other. The lawsuit stated, “This class action challenges a conspiracy among defendants to fix and suppress the compensation of their employees, female athletes colloquially known as ‘cheerleaders,’ without knowledge or consent of employees, defendant NFL Member Teams’ owners and senior executives entered into an agreement or series of agreements to eliminate competition among them for skilled labor employed as ‘cheerleaders.’”

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As former Raider cheerleader Caitlin Yates said, “We’re not asking to be paid like the football players are. But if you look at the mascot, who’s paid between $25,000 and $60,000 a year, it’s just not fair for what we put into it.” She added, “When I was on the team we would be paid $125 per game and we would be paid that amount in one lump sum at the end of the season…for 10 home games it would be $1,250, minus fines. We would be fined for all sorts of things. Sometimes if you’re missing a certain number of practices you could be fined $40 for that so that all comes out of your paycheck at the end.”

Lead plaintiff said, “The cheerleading life looks quite glamorous but I think once they see the number that’s actually attached to that, it’s not what you would think at all.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation two years ago requiring cheerleaders of professional sports teams in California to be paid at least minimum wage with overtime and sick leave. This was partially in response to a suit settled in 2014 against the Raiders. In that suit, the cheerleaders claimed that between games and rehearsal times, they were making less than $5 an hour. The suit settled for $1.25 million.

The lawsuit was seeking between $100 and $300 million in damages.

Do you think professional cheerleaders should be paid more? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about cheerleader lawsuits, read these articles:



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