Jets cheerleader files suit over wages

Updated: May 6, 2014, 7:24 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

A New York Jets cheerleader filed a class-action lawsuit against the team on Tuesday alleging illegally low wages, making it the fourth suit filed by a cheerleader against an NFL team over compensation.

In the complaint, filed in Bergen County, New Jersey, plaintiff Krystal C. said she was not paid for attending thrice-weekly practices or for some other promotional appearances during the time she danced for the team, from June 2012 to Dec. 2013.

The suit alleges cheerleaders were paid $150 on each game day and $100 for outside appearances. They were not reimbursed for expenses, or appearance-related mandates such as straightening curly hair on game day. Each member of the Flight Crew was also responsible for selling 30 copies of the calendar and turning the money over to the Jets.

The Jets declined to comment on the suit through a team spokesperson. When reached last week regarding the Buffalo Jills filing, NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said the league doesn't talk about ongoing legal cases.

Attorney Sharon Vinick, who filed the initial suit against the Oakland Raiders and is involved in the Jets suit, said the NFL itself hasn't been sued because the NFL is technically not the employer for any of the cheerleaders, the teams are. However, she said, the league does require copies of all the contracts teams make with service providers, and isn't prohibited from raising the issue with teams, or mandating standards.

In addition to the Jets and Raiders, the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals also have pending wage battles.

"One would certainly think it would be prudent for the NFL to do something," Vinick said.

Currently, there is a petition on Change.org asking the NFL to pay cheerleaders a fair wage, and it has more than 128,000 signatures.

Although some of the details in recent suits have been eyebrow-raising -- the Bills had a "jiggle test" to ensure cheerleaders were worthy of their uniforms and others instituted a system of fines which further reduced wages -- Krystal C. doesn't make similar allegations in her complaint.

The Jets' contract also included a never-ending non-disparagement clause and a morals clause that prohibited cheerleaders from endorsing products related to alcohol, tobacco, firearms or adult entertainment. Cheerleaders also couldn't identify themselves as Flight Crew members on social media without the Jets' consent.

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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