While NFL fans focus on Sunday's Super Bowl in Arizona, one California lawmaker is turning her attention to helping improve conditions for a group of workers on the sidelines—cheerleaders.
Legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) would treat cheerleaders of professional sports teams as employees under California law.
A former college cheerleader, Gonzalez said she introduced AB 202 because some sports teams misclassify cheerleaders as non-employee volunteers so they are not given protections granted many workers.
Gonzalez cited reports that some cheerleaders are paid less than minimum wage, don't get paid overtime and are forced to spend significant personal funds, which she noted are all improper under California employment law.
Lawsuits have been filed by cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills, claiming they are not receiving fair compensation despite the significant money earned by professional football teams and players.
"NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades," Gonzalez said in a statement. "They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage."