New California law recognizes cheerleaders as employees

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Gov. Jerry Brown has approved legislation recognizing California’s professional cheerleaders as employees who are entitled to minimum wage and overtime.

Brown’s office announced Wednesday that he signed AB202, requiring sports teams to employ cheerleaders as workers instead of contractors. That provides them with sick leave and other labor protections available to other staff.

It’s believed to be the first law of its kind in the nation.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego introduced the bill after Oakland Raiderette cheerleaders filed a wage-theft lawsuit. Gonzalez, who cheered at Stanford, says many professional cheerleaders are treated like glorified volunteers.

Some NFL cheerleaders say they’ve been paid sub-minimum or no wages and were forced to pay thousands of dollars to travel.

The NFL has declined to comment on AB202.

The law takes effect in 2016.