SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — A Southern California lawmakers is working to improve the status of professional sports cheerleaders, who lack wage protections and rights allotted to other team workers.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) has introduced a bill that would classify the cheerleaders as employees under California law, which would allow them to earn at least the minimum wage and overtime pay.

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Pro sports teams often treat cheerleaders as non-employee volunteers who receive stipends that are less than the minimum wage. Cheerleaders report not getting paid overtime or for promotional appearances outside of normal work days, and often are forced to spend personal funds for supplies.

AB 202 would require pro sports teams to provide cheerleaders with the same rights and benefits as other employees, and protect against what Gonzalez said are financial and personal abuses of cheerleaders reported across the country.

Last September, the Oakland Raiders settled a class-action wage theft lawsuit for $1.5 million, divided among 90 cheerleaders who worked for the team since the 2010 season. Cheerleaders from several other teams have also filed similar claims.

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“NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades.  They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage,” said Gonzalez, herself a former college cheerleader. “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.”

As part of the Raiders settlement with their cheerleaders, the team now will pay the Raiderettes $9 an hour, plus overtime, for the estimated 350 hours they work each season.

The cheerleaders will also be reimbursed for business expenses and mileage, and will receive paychecks every two weeks, rather than a lump sum at the end of the season.

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