Jets to pay $324K to settle cheerleaders’ lawsuit

The New York Jets have agreed to pay nearly $324,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by cheerleaders over wages. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

HACKENSACK, N.J. — The New York Jets have agreed to pay nearly $324,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by cheerleaders who claimed that they were cheated out of wages and forced to cover work-related expenses.

The 52 women involved in the suit said they were paid $150 per game and issued cheerleader uniforms, but weren’t paid for practices and other work, said Patricia Pierce, an attorney for the unidentified former cheerleader who filed the lawsuit in August 2014 in Bergen County, New Jersey, where the team plays. Pierce said they were also forced to pay for their makeup, hair care and transportation.

"When you figure all that up, they were making less than minimum wage," Pierce told The Record newspaper (bit.ly/1QrJYIU).

The lawsuit is one of several filed against NFL teams as the league faces pressure from lawmakers to pay cheerleaders in accordance with labour laws.

New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg sponsored a bill that would extend employment protections to cheerleaders affiliated with professional sports teams. The Democrat said she hopes the legislation starts calling attention to how these women "are underpaid and not protected."

Under the settlement, which was reached last week in Superior Court in Bergen County, the women will receive $2,559 to $5,913 each, depending upon whether they worked one or both of the 2012 and 2013 seasons and whether they took part in calendar photo shoots.

The team denied the claims but earlier said it agreed to settle to avoid the expense and distraction of litigation. As part of the settlement, the Jets made no admission of "any liability of wrongdoing whatsoever."