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Economy

Gonzalez Proposes Bill To Make Cheerleaders Employees Of Professional Teams

San Diego Chargers cheerleaders perform as the team plays the New England Patriots during the first half in an NFL football game on Dec. 7, 2014 in San Diego.
Associated Press / Denis Poroy
San Diego Chargers cheerleaders perform as the team plays the New England Patriots during the first half in an NFL football game on Dec. 7, 2014 in San Diego.

Cheerleaders for professional sports teams would be treated as employees under California law under a bill introduced Thursday by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego.

The bill was prompted by lawsuits filed by cheerleaders for the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills in which they claim they're paid below minimum wage considering how many hours they work.

"NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades," said Gonzalez, a cheerleader in college at Stanford.

"They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage," Gonzalez said. "If the guy selling you the beer deserves a minimum wage, so does the woman entertaining you on the field. All work is dignified and cheerleaders deserve the respect of these basic workplace protections."

The bill — AB 202 — would require that professional sports teams provide cheerleaders with the same rights and benefits as other employees. The teams consider the cheerleaders to be independent contractors.

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