Photo Video
A photo of Alexa Brenneman taken from her public Twitter profile.
Hide Caption
Prev
Cheerleader sues Bengals over pay Bengals cheerleader sues team over payment
Next

Ben-Gals cheerleader Alexa Brenneman files lawsuit against Bengals over payment

Bengals: It's a copycat suit

a a a a
Share this story

A cheerleader has filed a lawsuit against the Bengals organization, claiming she was underpaid for more than "300 hours" of work she performed for the team last season.

Alexa Brenneman, the cheerleader who filed the complaint, says she was paid $855 to work for the team between May 2013 and January 2014. She believes she and her approximately 30 teammates last season were illegally underpaid for their “300 hours” of work under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday.

“The Ben-Gals 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.

“When all of the mandatory practice time, public appearance time, time spent at Paul Brown Stadium on game days, and time posing for and promoting the Ben-Gals calendar are added together, the Ben-Gals spend well over 300 hours a year ‘working for the Bengals organization.’”

By Brenneman’s math, that means she was paid a rate of $2.85 per hour, $5 less than Ohio’s minimum wage rate ($7.85).

Brenneman, who says she was paid no more than $90 per game last season, said she is filing the class action complaint on behalf of "All persons who were employed by (the Bengals) as a Cincinnati (Ben-Gal) cheerleader at any time from February 10, 2011 through the present." That breaks down to about 50 people.

Part of the her argument stems from the team's designation as the cheerleaders as employees, according to the lawsuit. The complaint, filed by the law firm Goldenberg Schenider, LPA, references the Bengals' team website as evidence in support of their case.

“These ladies are young professionals who are not only involved in their own careers, but they are involved in many hours per week working for the Bengals,” the website reads.

The argument also points to the NFL’s designated revenue-sharing program.

“(The Bengals are) a member of the National Football League, an organization that includes a revenue-sharing program that spreads television royalties across the league.

“However, the money (the Bengals earn) from Ben-Gal cheerleader calendar sales and Ben-Gal cheerleader promotional appearances remains with (the Bengals) and is not shared with the rest of the league."

A 2003 Forbes Magazine article estimated that the extra revenue generated by a cheerleader squad amounts to just over “$1 million a season.”

The complaint also contends all extra practice times and “mandatory” appearances should be considered “work time” because attendance was not voluntary.

In the lawsuit, the attorneys use the Seattle Seahawks as an example of an organization that pays their cheerleaders "any hourly wage and any applicable overtime required by law, for all hours worked." The NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers also compensate their cheerleaders for more than just games, according to the suit.

Officials with the Bengals organization were quick to dismiss the allegations. While quick to compliment the team for the work it does in the community, they referred to Brenneman's suit as a "copycat move."

“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. Yesterday’s lawsuit appears to be a copycat lawsuit that mimics the one filed last month in California against a different NFL club."

The lawsuit in question was filed by the Raiders’ cheerleaders, who are also suing over what they consider an unlawful payment structure. The Raiderettes say they were paid what amounts to $5 per hour.

Bengals officials plan to address the litigation in "due course," according to the statement.

WCPO reached out to the law firm representing Brenneman but they refused to provide further comment on the matter.

RELATED: Internet giants weigh in on Sarah Jones defamation suit

 
 

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Bengals News
Cincinnati Bengals 2014 schedule is here!
Cincinnati Bengals 2014 schedule is here!

Are you ready for some football? The 2014 Bengals full schedule is now here!  

Dalton now comparing himself with NFL's best QBs
Dalton now comparing himself with NFL's best QBs

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton used to shy away from the comparisons. That's changed with his negotiations over a contract extension.

Bengals announce preseason schedule
Bengals announce preseason schedule

The Bengals' 2014 preseason schedule includes home games against the Jets and Colts and road games with the Chiefs and Cardinals.

Bengals invite 24 local players to workout
Bengals invite 24 local players to workout

The Bengals invited UC quarterback Brendon Kay and 23 other draft-eligible players to their annual local players’ workout Wednesday.

Bengals exercise option for Green
Bengals exercise option for Green

The Bengals exercised a 2015 contract option for receiver A.J. Green on Monday, letting them turn their focus to an extension for quarterback…

Bengals punter knows how Aroldis Chapman feels
Bengals punter knows how Aroldis Chapman feels

Almost recovered from his broken jaw, Kevin Huber says he's not sure how he'll react once he gets back on the field.

Chad Johnson hopes to make comeback in Canada
Chad Johnson hopes to make comeback in Canada

Former Bengals star Chad Johnson will make his return to the gridiron with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Bengals, Ham. Co. make deal in effort to lure GE
Bengals, Ham. Co. make deal in effort to lure GE

Bengals officials and Hamilton County administrators have come together on an agreement that paves the way for General Electric Co. and as…

Bengals sign 2013 3rd-rounder to bolster D-line
Bengals sign 2013 3rd-rounder to bolster D-line

Marvin Lewis hopes a change of scenery is all Sam Montgomery needs to maximize the potential that made him a third-round draft pick in 2013.

Judge finds Artrell Hawkins not guilty
Judge finds Artrell Hawkins not guilty

A Hamilton County Municipal Court judge has found former Bengals defensive back and NFL commentator  Artrell Hawkins  not guilty…