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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: November 9, 2015 10:13 AM
From: Representative Mark B. Cohen
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation Preventing Wage Abuse against Cheerleaders
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would protect cheerleaders and mascots of professional sports teams located in Pennsylvania against wage abuse.

Over the past couple of years, professional cheerleaders have filed suits against the National Football League (NFL) and other professional sports leagues for unfair pay. Cheerleaders often receive a flat fee for their services - $65 per game, $30 per practice, and $50 for each special appearance. However, when compared to the hours logged, cheerleaders often earn less than minimum wage.

The Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA is one team facing litigation currently. The Bucks requires its cheerleaders to arrive 2 ½ hours before games, rehearse five to 10 hours each week, and participate in workout sessions for 15 to 20 hours per week. According to one report, a cheerleader received take-home pay of about $3.50 to $4.50 per hour and no pay for overtime even though she worked more than 40 hours per week.

Wage abuse lawsuits began in the NFL against the Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, and the New York Jets. The Raiderettes filed the first lawsuit in January 2014. The team reached a settlement agreement with the cheerleaders resulting in payment of $1.25 million to 90 former cheerleaders, each of whom received at least $2,500 for each season they worked. The Raiderettes received this settlement despite a declaration by the Department of Labor in March 2014 that they were exempt from minimum wage laws because they are “seasonal” employees.

I am introducing this legislation because we should not stand for the exploitation of any employee performing any job for any length of time. I have been an advocate for equal pay and an increase in minimum wages for low-wage earners, including tipped workers, in Pennsylvania for decades. We should now turn our focus to professional cheerleaders and follow the lead of New York and California, who have already passed legislation to address this problem.

Please consider co-sponsoring this important legislation aimed at strengthening the legal protections of workers – professional cheerleaders and team mascots - to ensure protection of their basic rights under the law.

If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Seidl of my office at kseidl@pahouse.net or 7-4117.

Thank you

Introduced as HB1730