Milwaukee Bucks cheerleader files minimum wage lawsuit against team

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A former Milwaukee Bucks cheerleader has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the National Basketball Association team of failing to pay her at least a minimum wage or overtime for her work, court documents showed.

Lauren Herington, 22, worked 30 to 40 hours in an average week in her one season for the team, making about $3.50 to $4.50 an hour, and was not compensated for overtime when she worked more than 40 hours in a week, attorney Scott Andresen said.

"They are indentured servants with pom poms," Andresen said by phone, adding that more Bucks cheerleaders could possibly join the lawsuit.

A Milwaukee Bucks team representative could not be reached immediately to comment.

Cheerleaders have sued a handful of National Football League teams in recent years over low pay, including 90 members of the Oakland Raiders cheer squad. The Raiders settled its suit in 2014, when it agreed to pay $1.25 million to the cheerleaders.

In March, cheerleaders for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers received an $825,000 settlement to end a lawsuit they filed against the team over unfair wages.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee on Thursday, accuses the Bucks of violating the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act and Wisconsin wage and payment laws.

The Bucks pay cheerleaders $65 per home game, $30 per practice and $50 for each special appearance, the lawsuit said.

However, cheerleaders are required to arrive two and a half hours before each game, practice five to 10 hours a week and attend workout sessions totaling 15 to 20 hours per week, the lawsuit said.

Cheerleaders are also required to spend time complying with the team's personal appearance policies through salon visits, tanning sessions and uniform maintenance that they pay for themselves, the lawsuit said.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Alan Crosby)