(CBS Local)– In 2014, former Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors cheerleader Lacy Fields started a movement when she filed a lawsuit against the Raiders for wage theft.
The Louisiana native always dreamed of being a cheerleader for a professional organization, but the dream didn’t match her reality. While Fields was paid and treated fairly during her time with Golden State, she can’t say the same about her time with the Silver and Black.
“The ball was already rolling when we sat down and were handed these contracts. I didn’t even catch the part that said we’re not going to pay you until the end of the year,” said Fields in an interview with CBS Local. “[Money] was such a hushed-lip subject. They said if you’re at a promo and someone asks you about money, change the subject. We actually had training sessions about how to approach these uncomfortable situations about money.”
Fields is one of the subjects of a new documentary from filmmaker Yu Gu called “A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem.” The doc tells the stories of Fields and women from other NFL teams that dealt with issues of pay and sexual harassment in the workplace. When Fields first filed her lawsuit, people were shocked to find out about the lack of pay for cheerleaders.
“People assume that you’re in the NFL and that these girls must be taken care of,” said Fields. “When it first came out, people were like, ‘I had no idea that they weren’t even paying you guys and that you were paying out of pocket.’ Look at the revenue they bring in and pay them properly. Whether you read the contract or not Roger Goodell, you’re a part of this just as much as the Raiders.”
Fields had to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket each month to get her hair and nails done. After three years, the Oakland Raiders settled for $1.25 million in the class-action lawsuit. Fields got her cut of $10,000, but ended up sacrificing her career for this result. While she is no longer a professional cheerleader, she is proud of the movement that’s been made by women across the league fighting for better workplace conditions.
“It was actually extremely satisfying and exciting. You feel alone for so long, but you know in your heart you did the right thing,” said Fields. “You are really proud of yourself that you were successful in your fight for the Raiderettes. Other women can look and say she did it and she was alright. There was so much gratification for me as a mom and a woman who struggled through the years to get this accomplished.”