The NFL's latest crisis: Cheerleader lawsuits?

Shutdown Corner
The NFL's latest crisis: Cheerleader lawsuits?
The NFL's latest crisis: Cheerleader lawsuits?

Look what you started, Lacy T.

Back in January, a woman identified as Lacy T. filed a lawsuit against the Raiders because the team didn't pay her and the other team cheerleaders minimum wage. At the time it seemed like a funny joke on a team that has had its problems on the field. But really, it just caused other NFL cheerleaders to look at their situations and wonder if they also had a case. 

Manouchcar Pierre-Val has sued the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over unfair labor practices, according to the Tampa Bay Times, the fifth time NFL teams have been hit with lawsuits over wages this offseason. The Bears have famously gone decades without cheerleaders. They look brilliant for that decision now, not having to worry about this mess.

The main points of Pierre-Val's lawsuit read much like the ones against the Raiders, Bills, Bengals and Jets, centering around not being paid minimum wage for the activities cheerleaders are expected to perform and paying out of pocket for many of the expenses they incur doing work-related activities.

"These women were required to attend multiple practices per week, be at the stadium all day on game days, and attend at least 40 hours of events for nonprofits throughout the season," Kimberly D. Woods, the attorne who filed the nine-page suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, told the Tampa Bay Times.

The NFL prints money. To underpay anyone associated with the team is dumb and unnecessary. To pay cheerleaders less than $2 per hour, counting practices and appearances to represent the team, makes no sense. The money that cheerleaders want for their services probably is close to the amount that gets spent on athletic tape every year. If they're important enough that you're asking them to represent the team at various functions, pay them a fair amount for their work.

The rest of the issues, make what you will of them. The cheerleaders have complained in lawsuits about rules set by the team, like how to act and present themselves, and conditions on their weight. Sports on Earth did a sympathetic story describing the issues the cheerleaders have with how they're treated on the job and the concern they have about being replaced if they step out of line. NFL players, who deal with a ton of conditions as part of their job and are quickly replaced, can relate although it's their full-time job and not a volunteer gig. But it's probably smart for all NFL teams to take a long look at how they treat their cheerleaders and get rid of some of the archaic rules for them.

The NFL always is going to deal with controversies from all angles. The league probably didn't plan on a rash of lawsuits from cheerleaders.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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