NFL Cheerleaders Have It Bad—Seriously

Catherine Rampell explains why

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 29, 2014 10:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – NFL cheerleaders have been raising quite a ruckus lately about their awful working conditions—and though maybe some of you might find "it's hard to have too much sympathy" for these "pretty, perfectly proportioned, and popular" women, we really should, writes Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post. Take a look at the allegations laid out in the various lawsuits, and you'll see that NFL cheerleaders "appear to be frequent victims of both wage theft and other, far weirder indignities," including regulations on what kind of tampons to use and how to eat (don't use your fingers).

"Some of the rules read like they come from a 1950s etiquette guide; others, from Leviticus," Rampell writes. "In any case, the organization seems to have exerted a lot of control over cheerleaders’ lives, on and off the field, while still somehow classifying them as 'independent contractors'"—despite the fact that, by law, an independent contractor must be in control of her own work and schedule. "One of the points of labor law is to offer basic protections to workers for whom the balance of power vastly favors employers," Rampell concludes. "Perhaps especially so when those bosses come from a taxpayer-subsidized, multibillion-dollar industry like the NFL." Click for her full column.

Oakland Raiders cheerleaders perform during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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