NFL Cheerleaders Will Finally Get Minimum Wage, Thanks To Bill Signed By CA Governor

California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill yesterday that will allow all cheerleaders for California-based sports teams to have benefits like minimum wage, paid sick leave and many other legal rights and protections that full time employees receive. According to Buzzfeed, the bill comes on the heels of a much-publicized lawsuit filed by an Oakland Raiderette, Lacy T., which claimed that Raiderettes were not paid for all the hours they worked and “that Raiderettes were not reimbursed for ‘business expenses,’ [and] were ‘paid a flat fee of $125 [per home game], regardless of the hours worked,’ and were required to make unpaid charity appearances.”

Buzzfeed reports that the lawsuit led to a number of other NFL cheerleaders to raise similar suits, claiming that they had been unfairly compensated for their hours and also lacked the legal protections many full-time employees enjoyed. Eventually, the Oakland Raiders settled for $1.25 million in back pay to Raiderettes from 2010-2013.

Professional cheerleading is a physically and emotionally taxing vocation, full of unrealistic and intense expectations. Also, it looks like a lot of fucking work. Here’s what Britney Carson, a former cheerleader for the Carolina Panthers, had to say in a piece about her time as a TopCat.

Then one night I came home from practice crying after a manager who had an issue with my job in media scolded me: “Your face does not belong to you!” It was then I realized the only thing I was a role model for was eating disorders and submissive naivety.

A former Ravenette, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, shared some insight with Deadspin last year, making the entire organization sound like a sadistic sorority with herkie jumps and mandatory teeth bleaching. The Cincinnatti Bengals’ handbook was also pretty nuts. Cheerleading is a job that’s hard as hell — not as physically taxing as what’s happening on the field, but almost as bad, mentally and emotionally. Being a shiny, bouncy, nearly nude trophy that dances in unison on the sidelines is just as much of a job as the rest of them.

It’s great that these women in California will finally be protected by the law. It’s a shame that it took this long for it to become a reality.