The New York Jets have tried taking care of their players over the years. Their cheerleaders, however, were a much different story.
NFL teams haven’t compensated their cheerleaders well
New York Jets cheerleaders joined numerous other cheerleaders in taking their teams to court in 2014. Cheerleaders from the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Oakland Raiders all fought teams for increased wages.
Although they put in an extraordinary amount of hours between games, practice, and other events, cheerleaders routinely made below minimum wage.
The cheerleaders were independent contractors, which meant teams didn’t need to pay them yearly salaries or pay them in line with state or federal minimum wages.
Enough eventually was enough and the New York Jets cheerleaders, known as the Flight Crew, took the team to court.
New York Jets cheerleaders wanted far more than they earned
Former Jets cheerleader Krystal C. filed a lawsuit against the team where she claimed cheerleaders made only $150 per game and $100 for special event appearances, according to CNN.
Krystal C’s attorney, Patricia Pierce, used those rates to determine just how little the Flight Crew truly made.
Pierce found Krystal C. and the Flight Crew made $3.77 an hour based on the actual hours worked versus what she was actually paid.
The New Jersey minimum wage increased from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour in January 2014. New York’s was $8.00 per hour for 2014.
Pierce also stated the hourly rate sunk below $1.50 an hour, “when you factor in the required hair, makeup and transportation expenses.”
The New York Jets were worth $1.8 billion in 2014 and the NFL’s sixth-most valuable team that year, according to Forbes.
The lawsuit worked out for the Jets and their cheerleaders
Almost two years after Krystal C. and the Flight Crew took the Jets to court, the cheerleaders walked away with a nice payday.
In January 2016, a New Jersey court approved a $325,000 settlement between the cheerleaders and the Jets.
Each of the team’s 52 cheerleaders received $2,500 for each season they worked in the years covered by the lawsuit. Those were the 2011 through 2013 seasons, according to the New York Times.
Cheerleaders also had the opportunity to receive up to $400 per photo shoot they participated in.
Krystal C. and the Flight Crew benefited from partaking in the Cheerleader Revolution. Similarly, the Ben-Gals — the Cincinnati Bengals’ cheerleaders — received $255,000 in lost wages in October 2015.
Movements like those held by the Flight Crew and Ben-Gals went a long way in helping the long-term futures and reputations of cheerleaders.