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California now recognizes NFL cheerleaders as employees

When a stream of lawsuits exposed the extent to which NFL teams exploit cheerleaders financially, it was obvious that changes would be coming to the system for paying them.

Via the Associated Press, California has become the first state in the country to expressly make cheerleaders employees, for the purposes of minimum wage and overtime.

The new law will make it easier for cheerleaders of California NFL teams to prove employment status, and in turn the receipt justify minimum wage and overtime. Without the new law, teams could try to claim that the cheerleaders are contractors.

For years, some teams have taken advantage of the intensely competitive nature of the cheerleader selection process to justify paying the “winners” less than they deserve, or otherwise treating them poorly. A rash of lawsuits has exposed some of the seedier alleged practices, and hopefully the combination of litigation and legislation will bring about the kind of change that ensures the cheerleaders will be treated like any other employee, male or female.