A Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader has filed a federal lawsuit against the team, alleging the organization violated federal and state minimum wage laws.
In the 20-page lawsuit, attorneys for cheerleader Alexa Brenneman say the local NFL team pays its Ben-Gals cheerleaders at most $90 for each home game at which they cheer.
Brenneman was a Ben-Gal for the 2013 season, working in that role from approximately May 2013 through January.
The lawsuit said Brenneman worked more than 300 hours for the team and appeared at 10 home games during the 2013 season. The team paid her $855, a rate of less than $2.85 an hour. Last year, Ohio's minimum wage was $7.85 an hour.
The suit says Bengals cheerleaders are required to attend at least 6-8 hours of mandatory practices every week from late May through December, are required to appear at no fewer than 10 charity functions a season and most pose for and promote a Ben-Gals calendar.
The lawsuit said the 2013-14 Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks pays its cheerleaders an hourly wage and any applicable overtime.
The NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, the only other professional sports team in Ohio with cheerleaders, pays its cheerleaders for rehearsals, games, appearances, promotions and dance clinics, the suit says.
The suit seeks unpaid wages, damages, attorneys' fees and other measures including a judgment against the Bengals for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Bengals issued the following statement to FOX19:
"The Ben-Gals cheerleading program has long been a program run by former cheerleaders and has enjoyed broad support in the community and by members of the squad," the team said. "Yesterday's lawsuit appears to be a copycat lawsuit that mimics the one filed last month in California against a different NFL club. The Bengals will address the litigation in due course."
Brenneman's suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.
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