The New York Jets became the fourth NFL team to be hit with a lawsuit by its cheerleaders this year when a former member of the club’s “Flight Crew” kicked off a putative class action Tuesday in New Jersey alleging her pay amounted to much less than minimum wage.
The lawsuit, filed in Bergen County by a Connecticut woman identified only as Krystal C. for security purposes, alleged that while the Jets pay the members of their cheerleading squad $150 per game and $100 per required event appearance, the actual amount of time spent working at practices and rehearsals diminishes their compensation to below what is allowed by New Jersey law, and out-of-pocket expenses for mandatory personal appearance maintenance and motivational gifts to each other cut the pay even further.
According to Krystal C, when the three required weekly practices, rehearsal times, mandatory attendance at so-called camp days and meet-and-greet events are all taken into account, the cheerleaders are only making $3.77 per hour.
Factor in expenses for hair, make-up, nails, transportation costs, costume cleaning, and a requirement one of the cheerleaders provide gifts to the others at rehearsals — at prices ranging from a total of $30 to $200 — then the pay plunged to only $1.50 per hour.
The minimum wage in New Jersey was $7.25 per hour in 2013 before it was raised to $8.25 per hour this year.
According to the lawsuit, the cheerleaders are required to work certain Saturdays and Sundays in July during training camp, and while veterans were paid $100 per day, rookies, like the plaintiff, weren’t paid at all.
There was also off-the-clock work required to practice dance routines at home, and about 6 hours per week on mandatory grooming, the suit claimed.
The cheerleaders were all required to have straight hair, and naturally curly Krystal C. spent $45 per week on straightening treatment, according to the lawsuit.
A representative for the Jets declined to comment when contacted Tuesday.
The lawsuit marks the fourth NFL team this year to be hit with allegations it has been underpaying its cheerleaders.
In January, a member of the Oakland Raiders cheering squad lodged a putative class action in California claiming the Raiderettes were not paid for all hours worked, forced to pay their own business expenses and had their compensation held until the end of the season.
Cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals have also sued their respective employers.
The case is Krystal C. v. New York Jets LLC, in the Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division in Bergen County.