In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, California Gov. Jerry Brown recently approved a bill labeled AB202, which grants professional cheerleaders sick leave, overtime and minimum wage. Under the new legislation, the NFL is also required to consider cheerleaders as team employees.
Former college cheerleader-turned- state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales introduced the bill and added it to the state's labor laws. In an official statement, she said, "We would never tolerate shortchanging of women workers at any other workplace. An NFL game should be no different."
Prior to the AB202 signing, all cheerleaders were officially designated as contract employees, which considerably reduced their rights. In fact, cheerleaders for the Los Angeles Raiders earned less than $5 an hour and received zero compensation for public appearances or rehearsals, according to the Raiderettes' attorney Sharon Vinick. This eventually led to a lawsuit on behalf of multiple Raiderettes who cheered for the team between 2010 and 2013. Last year, they were awarded a $1.25 million settlement.
For the cheerleaders, AB202 is a victory both on and off the field. But the law will only impact California when it takes effect in 2016. Fortunately, New York is in the process of developing a similar bill.
Now, all we need is for the other states to get on board.