Skip to main content
Attack of the Cheerleaders! Allegations of Violations of the FLSA on an Uncertain Landscape
Journal of Law, Business & Ethics (2015)
  • Adam Epstein, Central Michigan University

In 2013-14, several lawsuits were brought by National Football League (NFL) cheerleaders who claimed that their respective football clubs violated federal or state law with regard to violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the 1938 federal act that mandates the minimum wage, overtime provisions, and so on. Interestingly, and at the same time, national discourse manifest itself over possibly increasing the federal, state and local minimum wage with various states and cities voting in favor of increasing their minimum wage. The purpose of this article is to explore the recent claims by certain NFL cheerleaders and to analyze relevant case law with regard to this employer-employee relationship as to whether there have been violations of federal and state minimum wage and overtime hour laws by their respective teams, or even the NFL itself. Of course, the characterization of who is and who is not an employee in the context of the sports business, both amateur and professional, has been a timely and hot topic in its own right, let alone for NFL cheerleaders. Cases explored include Senne v. Office of the Comm’r of Baseball, Bridewell v. Cincinnati Reds, Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, and Liger v. New Orleans Hornets NBA Ltd. P’ship. The Sixth and Eleventh federal circuits appear to disagree on how the act is to be interpreted, at least with regard to baseball organizations. Still, just like the student-athletes at Northwestern University who have been declared employees and given the right to form a union, and just like Ed O’Bannon whose lawsuit against the NCAA could assist in changing the concept of the unpaid, amateur student-athlete to that of employee, someday lawyers and legal scholars may look back at the NFL cheerleaders, minor league baseball players and others and ask, "What took you so long?".

  • NFL,
  • Cheerleader,
  • FLSA,
  • Minimum Wage,
  • Employer,
  • Employee,
  • "Seasonal Employee,
  • " NLRA,
  • NLRB,
  • Ed O'Bannon,
  • Dept. of Labor,
  • Control
Publication Date
Citation Information
Adam Epstein. "Attack of the Cheerleaders! Allegations of Violations of the FLSA on an Uncertain Landscape" Journal of Law, Business & Ethics Vol. 21 (2015)
Available at: