A similar bill was proposed in New York state last month after five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders sued the franchise for wage theft, according to the local Journal News.
Raiders cheerleaders were ultimately paid less than $5 per hour through a contract that did not include pay for hours of rehearsals and public appearances, Raiderettes attorney Sharon Vinick said.
Under the new law, professional sports teams will be required to pay cheerleaders minimum wage as well as provide paid overtime and workers’ comp. It protects professional mascots as well, though most mascots, most of whom are male, are already granted basic employee rights.
The measure by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) designates professional cheerleaders as “employees” under California law.
The law will take effect January 1, 2016. Later that year, the Raiders settled for $1.25 million in backpay for cheerleaders who were Raiderettes between 2010 and 2013.
Vinick said in a telephone interview Wednesday that though Raiders cheerleaders testified on behalf of AB202, they have always maintained that under the law they should already be considered employees and were never independent contractors.
An associated bill proposed by Gonzalez to legally define competitive cheerleading as a sport is similarly winding its way through the California legislature, passing easily through committees and the assembly floor.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league does not manage cheerleaders’ employment.
Like Levy, Yates hopes that the law will give the women the power to speak about their experiences without fear of retaliation by their employers. That should be the least a billion dollar business like an National Football League team can do for someone who contributes to their financial success.