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Raiders agree to pay $1.25 million to cheerleaders suing over unfair pay

By Eric M. Johnson

(Reuters) - The Oakland Raiders have agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle a lawsuit brought by 90 members of the team's cheerleading squad who alleged they were underpaid or faced lengthy delays in receiving their wages in violation of California labor law.

The settlement, which requires court approval, was announced by the Raiders and the Raiderettes in a joint statement on Thursday and followed similar suits filed since January by cheerleaders for several other National Football League franchises.

The litigation has focused attention on the working conditions of NFL cheerleaders who, unlike professional football players, are not represented by a labor union.

"The settlement will resolve disputed claims regarding payment for hours worked, including practices and appearances, expenses, interest, and penalties under the California Labor Code," according to the joint statement.

The two sides said the class-action case was the first ever filed in the NFL challenging cheerleader pay practices.

The settlement covers four seasons. It would pay an average of $6,000 to each Raiderette for each season she worked from 2010 to 2012, and $2,500 per cheerleader for those who worked in the 2013-2014 season.

The original plaintiff, referred to in the lawsuit as Raiderette Lacy T., who worked last year, said the team had paid individual cheerleaders only $1,250 for an entire season and withheld wages until the end of the season.

The Raiders, in July, offered its new cheerleading squad a contract that nearly tripled members' pay, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In April, a wage theft lawsuit brought by five former cheerleaders with the Buffalo Bills prompted the cheering squad there to suspend operations for the team's upcoming season that starts this month.

A lawsuit against the Cincinnati Bengals in February said individual cheerleading pay there was less than $2.85 an hour, significantly under Ohio's minimum wage of $7.85.

One New York Jets cheerleader said in her lawsuit she and her teammates were paid a flat $150 fee for games in 2012 but were not compensated for practice time, travel time and other work, putting her compensation below the state minimum wage.

A hearing on the Oakland settlement in Alameda County Superior Court is slated for Sept. 26.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Cooney)

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