Ex-Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Sues Team, Says Male Mascot Made More than Cheerleaders

"When you are on the team you are scared to speak out or stand up for yourself"

A former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is suing the team for what she claims are unfair labor practices, according to a lawsuit.

Erica Wilkins, a Cowboys cheerleader for three seasons, sued the team Tuesday under the Fair Labor Standards Act for failing to pay her time-and-a-half for overtime hours she worked during her tenure with the team.

The lawsuit alleged Wilkins, who was a cheerleader from 2014-2017 "routinely worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek while performing her cheerleading duties" for the Cowboys.

"A lot of girls, me included, when you are on the team you are scared to speak out or stand up for yourself and when I finished my career I just decided it was time someone made a difference and make a change and stand up," Wilkins said. 

In another claim in the suit under the Equal Pay Act, Wilkins said the cheerleaders, who were all female, were paid less than the Cowboys' mascot, Rowdy, who was male. Wilkins alleges the cheerleaders were expected to participate in a yearly reality TV show and other events for which they were not paid.

"Not only as professionals do we deserve to get fair pay, but as women we deserve to get equal pay to the other employees in the organization," Wilkins said.

Wilkins also claimed that management instructed the cheerleaders to post on social media about their work with the team to benefit the Cowboys financially. According to the lawsuit, the Cowboys did not record the hours or compensate the cheerleaders for the time they spent on their social media accounts.

The Dallas Cowboys declined to comment.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of complaints made by cheerleaders against NFL teams across the country.

Earlier this month, five former cheerleaders sued the Houston Texans alleging the franchise paid women less than their promised $7.25 per hour wage and failed to compensate them for public appearances and other work-related tasks.

The cheerleaders, who are being represented by prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, also claimed they were threatened with being fired if they complained.

It was the second such lawsuit against the Texans. The first was filed by three ex-cheerleaders who claimed they were not paid minimum wage or overtime and were body-shamed by their supervisor.

Former cheerleaders with the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints also have filed recent discriminatory complaints and lawsuits against their ex-teams.

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