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A former New York Jets cheerleader who says she was paid less than $4 per hour is suing the team after four women have made similar claims against other NFL teams.
“Krystal C.," a 25-year-old dance education student who declined to further identify herself, citing safety concerns, filed the class action suit seeking damages for unpaid wages and reimbursement of work-related expenses in Bergen County Court in New Jersey.
The suit alleges that Krystal, who cheered for one season in 2012, was paid $150 per game and $100 per special event, which worked out to $3.77 an hour when taking into account all the hours she was expected to work. The lawsuit says the total dropped to $1.50 an hour when mandatory hair, makeup and transportation costs were included.
Some of the extra hours she worked included having to show up to games more than three hours before they started, selling Flight Crew calendars and helping out at junior cheerleader camps, the suit alleges.
A Jets spokesman declined comment Tuesday. The NFL did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
New Jersey’s minimum wage is $8.25 an hour.
“Cheering in that field in that live stadium with thousands of fans and players is an experience you’ll never forget,” the Connecticut resident told NBC Bay Area by phone Tuesday morning. “But I started feeling that there is this unfairness. I did all the math, and our paycheck wasn’t summing up.”
She said she was nervous to sue. But she was heartened by a recent Oakland cheerleaders’ suit against the Raiders. She said she ultimately decided her voice “needed to be heard.”
Krystal is being represented by Patricia Pierce of Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores in Philadelphia and Sharon Vinick and Leslie Levy in Oakland. The Oakland firm kicked off the national wave of cheerleader suits, when its clients, Lacy T. and Sarah G., first filed suits against the Oakland Raiders, alleging they make a little less than $5 an hour.
“The failure to pay women who work as cheerleaders a legal wage for all of the hours that they work is clearly an NFL-wide problem that needs to change,” Pierce said.
Since the Raiderettes lawsuit, Alexa Brenneman, a Ben-Gal cheerleader, sued the the Cincinnati Bengals in February in federal court. She says she makes $2.85 an hour. The team filed a motion to dismiss the suit, which has yet to be ruled on.
The Raiders have not spoken publicly on the issue, but in court papers filed in Alameda County Superior Court in March, asked a judge force the cheerleading plaintiffs to plead their case directly to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, rather than a judge.
A hearing for the Raiderettes case is scheduled for May 14.