Milwaukee, WI: Cheerleaders for the Milwaukee Bucks have filed a wage and hour class action lawsuit alleging the team's cheerleaders are not paid a minimum wage but rather a flat rate that fails to cover mandatory out-of-pocket expenses. The complaint is brought under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and in accordance with Wisconsin state wage and hour law.
In the suit, lead plaintiff Lauren Herington alleges the basketball organization doesn't adequately cover the hours worked by cheerleaders, resulting in "extremely low, subminimum wages, far less than the required federal and Wisconsin minimum wage in most, if not all workweeks."
According to the complaint, the Milwaukee Bucks pay the cheerleaders, known as the Bucks Dancers, a flat rate of $65 per home game, $30 for practices and $50 for special appearances. In exchange for that financial compensation, the dancers must arrive 2 1/2 hours prior to home game start times, practice up to 10 hours per week and attend approximately 15-20 hours of physical fitness workouts each week.
The complaint also states that the cheerleaders are required to appear at corporate and charity events, as well as other community activities, and appear in an annual swimsuit calendar and other photo shoots and publications. Additionally, they must spend time each week complying with appearance policies that mandate salon visits, haircuts, tanning sessions, uniform maintenance and other work.
The lawsuit states that the Milwaukee Bucks to not pay their cheerleaders for mandatory fitness workouts, complying with appearance or image requirements, uniform maintenance and other work they were "required, encouraged, suffered and/or permitted to perform."
The complaint also alleges that the basketball organization is aware that it is not paying its cheerleaders even minimum wage, and that it fails to do so in order to reduce its labor and payroll costs.
The plaintiffs are seeking increased wages and unspecified damages, as well as recovery of unpaid minimum wages for work performed, unpaid overtime wages for time worked in excess of 40 hours per week, injunctive relief and attorneys' fees and costs.
Herington is represented by Larry A. Johnson and Summer H. Murshid of Hawks Quindel SC, Ryan F. Stephan of Stephan Zouras LLP and Scott A. Andresen of Andresen & Associates.
The case is Herington v. Milwaukee Bucks LLC, case number 2:15-cv-01152, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.