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California Says Cheerleaders Are Employees

Kaplan Weiss LLP

California recently enacted a new law requiring all California professional baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, or soccer teams to classify cheerleaders as employees and not independent contractors.

Existing California and Federal employment laws prescribe comprehensive requirements relating to minimum wages, overtime compensation and standards for working conditions applicable to an employment relationship. Existing laws require employers to make specified payments and withholdings from wages and provide detailed wage statements to employees reflecting all payments and deductions. Existing laws also provide protection to employees for, among other things, discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

Under this new California law, California cheerleaders are now protected by the existing State and Federal laws governing the employment relationship, including payment of minimum wage, overtime compensation, standards for working conditions and prohibitions against discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 202, enacting California’s new cheerleader law on July 15, 2015. The cheerleader law will be added as Section 2754 to the California Labor Code.

Assembly Bill No. 202 (PDF)

California Legislative Information

Text of Labor Code Section 2754:

(a) For the purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) “California-based team” means a team that plays a majority of its home games in California.

(2) “Cheerleader” means an individual who performs acrobatics, dance, or gymnastics exercises on a recurring basis. This term shall not include an individual who is not otherwise affiliated with a California-based professional sports team and is utilized during its exhibitions, events, or games no more than one time in a calendar year.

(3) “Professional sports team” means a team at either a minor or major league level in the sport of baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, or soccer

(b) Notwithstanding any other law, for purposes of all of the provisions of state law that govern employment, including this code, the Unemployment Insurance Code, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Part 2.8 (commencing with Section 12900) of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), a cheerleader who is utilized by a California-based professional sports team directly or through a labor contractor during its exhibitions, events, or games, shall be deemed to be an employee.

(c) The professional sports team shall ensure that the cheerleader is classified as an employee.

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