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New documentary explores the NFL's cheerleader problem

January 12, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 18.5%. 2 min read.

For decades, cheerleaders have been synonymous with the NFL.

A new documentary, "A Woman's Work: The NFL's Cheerleader Problem," exposes the underbelly of a seemingly glamorous pursuit and follows the lives of two women who ​say they decided enough was enough.

Former cheerleader Lacy Thibodeaux-Fields was the first to speak out, filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the Raiderettes against the then Oakland Raiders in 2014, alleging wage theft and illegal employment practices.

In 2014, after the lawsuit was filed, the Raiders ​reportedly more than doubled the cheerleaders' pay for mandatory events, amounting to about $9 an hour -- minimum wage at the time.

From an early age, Thibodeaux-Fields had dreams of cheerleading for one of football's biggest teams and, after years of hard work, she fulfilled her ambition by joining the Raiderettes cheer team for the then Oakland Raiders.

She told CNN Sport she wasn't paid minimum wage for the countless hours she was putting in.

Raiderettes made just $1,250 per season and pay would come at the very end of the year, Vinick told CNN Sport.

Vinick told CNN Sport that she was initially shocked when she first read the cheerleaders' contract because "it had more illegal provisions than any contract that I've read in almost 30 years of practicing law. "

Like Thibodeaux-Fields, Pinzone told CNN Sport she "worked her butt off" to be selected for the Buffalo Bills' Jills.

In 2014, Pinzone and five other women also decided to file a lawsuit against her team ​over the way they were paid, a case which later included the NFL (which was named on the contract they signed). ​

The documentary shows the backlash the women received for speaking out, both from within cheerleading and the wider NFL community.

As of September 2020, 10 of the 26 NFL teams with cheerleading squads have been sued for wage theft, unsafe work conditions, sexual harassment and discrimination, according to the documentary.

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