Lauren Herington filed a federal lawsuit in Wisconsin last month charging that the Milwaukee Bucks basketball organization failed to pay her minimum wage during her years as a cheerleader for the team. The lawsuit, for which there is no precedent in the NBA, could have a wide-ranging impact on Bucks cheerleaders and cheerleaders throughout the league. Indeed, since Herington filed her suit, one other former or current Bucks cheerleader has joined the effort, and another five are considering doing so as well. Herington said the issue of fair pay was entirely off-limits at the time she worked for the team. “They told us it was a full-time commitment with part-time pay. If we had an issue, we’d be shown the door,” she told The New York Times. Herington claims she was paid a range of flat fees for her services. She took home $65 for games, $30 for practices and $50 for special appearances. Her attorneys figured that, all told, her compensation amounted to an hourly rate of $5 per hour — well below the minimum wage required by federal and Wisconsin law. In addition to the low wages, Herington accuses the Bucks in her lawsuit of forcing her to pay the cleaning bills for her cheerleading outfit, sessions at a tanning booth, hair and makeup; such as fake eyelashes and manicures. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Bucks said the claims are “inaccurate” and paint a “false picture of how we operate.” The team has vowed to fight the lawsuit. The NBA is about to kick off its 2015-2016 regular season this week, and the league’s salary cap has swollen to a record $70 million per team.
Read the full story at The New York Times.