You may be good at basketball
You may be good at track
But when it comes to fair pay
You better watch your back
NBA Cheerleaders, attack!
NBA cheerleaders spend hours each day during the NBA season practicing and honing their craft while earning significantly less than the federally mandated minimum wage. At the same time, the NBA this year increased the salary cap for players to $70 million per team.
Lauren Herington, a former member of the Milwaukee Bucks Energee cheerleading team, sued her former employer in federal court in Wisconsin earlier this year, alleging that she had been paid less than half of the $7.25/hour federal and Wisconsin minimum wage rate. In fact, during her busiest weeks during the NBA season, she was paid an average of $3.00/hour. In addition to her gripes about the paltry hourly wages that are rampant throughout the industry, Ms. Herington also brought claims against the additional out of pocket expenses she was forced to incur to remain a member of the squad, including paying for her own special uniform cleaning services, tanning sessions, false eyelashes, and expensive bi-monthly hair and nail appointments. Nevertheless, it is an unwritten norm in the world of professional cheerleading that cheering is a full time commitment with part-time pay.
The League and the Milwaukee Bucks take such charges extremely seriously and are “bucking” back. NBA spokesperson Mike Bass vehemently argued that all NBA teams comply with all of the pertinent fair labor and employment laws and pay accordingly. Mirroring such sentiments, Milwaukee Buck’s spokesman Jake Suski stated that the Team complies with all state and federal wage laws.
For more information about the suit, please click here.
Loren Shokes is an Entertainment and Sports Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current second year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2017).