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Worker protections bill for cheerleaders approved in California

Cheerleaders in California are set to receive minimum wage, overtime pay and sick leave.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

California state senate is set to enact a bill that will guarantee worker protections for cheerleaders in the state, which is believed to be the first legislation of its kind, according to the Associated Press.

With the new protections, cheerleaders for professional teams will be guaranteed at least minimum wage and overtime pay, as well as sick leave. Previously, cheerleaders for a few teams raised lawsuits for work that amounted to less than minimum wage, including suits against the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills.

While Raiders cheerleaders were paid $1,250 per season on a contract that includes game day performances, rehearsals and other community appearances, Bills cheerleaders were reportedly unpaid altogether. The New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all been sued for cheerleader pay as well.

The new law in California seeks to ensure cheerleaders in the state are guaranteed the minimum wage, but some aren't convinced it will do much to change things. Via Sudhin Thalawala of the Associated Press:

"It's nice to have clarifying legislation, but I don't think it changes the state of the law at all," said attorney Sharon Vinick, who represented former Raiders cheerleaders in a lawsuit against the team.

Many teams classify cheerleaders as independent contractors, although Vinick has contested that due to the strict guidelines and requirements asked by teams. As long as teams continue to classify cheerleaders as independent contractors, they may be able to circumvent the new law by not considering cheerleaders to be team employees.

The bill was approved on Monday and will next be sent to California governor Jerry Brown to be approved before it becomes law.