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Pro Sports Cheerleader Bill Now On Governor's Desk

Ben Margot / AP

Oakland Raiders cheerleaders perform during the second half of an NFL football game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014.

Ben Margot / AP

Cheerleaders for professional sports teams in California would be treated as employees – not independent contractors – under legislation now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

Some pro sports teams pay their cheerleaders flat rates for each game. Others pay by the hour. Some cheerleaders are team employees. Others are considered independent contractors.

Several lawsuits against NFL teams have challenged those issues, including one against the Oakland Raiders.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez says her bill would classify all pro sports cheerleaders as employees. So whether employed by the team or an outside company, they’d need to be paid by the hour and have access to benefits like worker’s compensation.

“I think there is this gut reaction that, like, is this something serious?“ Gonzalez says. “But when you look at the entire game day experience, there’s only one set of workers who aren’t being given the very basic dignity and respect – and those happen to be all women, in this very male sport.”

The bill passed the Legislature on mostly party-line votes despite no formal opposition. It's now on the governor's desk.

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Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio