The Dallas Cowboys are on the receiving end of a proposed collective action filed by a former cheerleader who claims she’s owed unpaid minimum and overtime wages and earned less than the team’s male mascot despite performing similar work.
The plaintiff worked for the NFC East team from May 2014 through August 2017, the lawsuit states, and was paid $8 per hour for attending practices, training, rehearsals, and filming and production of the “Making the Team” television show. The woman claims she was paid no wages at all for attending meetings with Dallas Cowboys management that were filmed for the show—work that the suit describes as “integral and indispensable” to the plaintiff’s primary job duties.
In addition to her hourly rate, the plaintiff was paid a flat rate for game-day work and group performances that did not vary depending on the number of hours she put in for such activities, the case alleges. No matter what specific duties she was performing, the plaintiff’s work time was not recorded by the team for the purposes of calculating the total number of hours worked and corresponding wages, the lawsuit claims.
According to the 20-page complaint, the woman routinely worked more than 40 hours per week without being paid time-and-a-half overtime wages in accordance with federal law. All told, the suit charges the cheerleaders’ pay during some weeks, when considering the number of hours spent on team-related activities, did not hash out to at least the $7.25 hourly minimum wage.
In addition to detailing potential Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations, the case centers on claims that the Cowboys violated the Equal Pay Act in paying cheerleaders at a rate less than that of the team’s mascot, “Rowdy,” a male employee whose work the plaintiff claims “required equal skill, effort, and responsibility.” According to the lawsuit, the employee performing as “Rowdy” made roughly $65,000 annually, while the plaintiff’s gross wages from the Dallas Cowboys never exceeded $16,516 during any year of her employment.