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Former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader sues team


A former cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys sued the team this week, saying that the team mascot made more than she did.

Erica Wilkins, who was a Cowboys cheerleader from 2014 through 2017, filed a suit in U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas. Wilkins alleges that the Cowboys failed to pay her minimum wage and overtime.

In the suit, Wilkins' attorney said she was paid $8 an hour. However, the suit says that Wilkins was, "…not paid for all hours worked when paid on an hourly basis."

The suit goes on to say that Wilkins wasn't paid when she attended some meetings that were filmed for a reality show surrounding the storied cheerleaders that aired on CMT called 'Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.'

During Wilkins' duration with the team, she also wasn't paid what she was owed in overtime wages according to the filed documents.

One paragraph reads, "Plaintiff was not paid time and one-half her regular rate of pay for each hour worked over 40 in each workweek during her employment with the defendant."

In the suit, it says ‘Rowdy’ the mascot was paid $25 an hour. Over three times what cheerleaders made.

Rowdy was often portrayed by a male, according to the suit.

The most Wilkins made a year working for the Cowboys was $16,516.01. Rowdy, however, made at least $65,000 a year, the suit says.

Wilkins says that’s unfair due to the rigorous amount of training cheerleaders had to go through.

“A lot of people think we have some sort of fitness trainer—we don’t. We don’t have a nutritionist, and we’re required to do all of this and stay in shape on our own,” Wilkins said.

“Rowdy is in a costume, you have no look requirements, no height requirements, and no weight requirements.”

The suit says Rowdy often got paid for appearances when Wilkins and others did not.

Wilkins is seeking damages in the amount of her unpaid overtime wages, minimum wages, and all damages allowed under the EPA.

WFAA reached out to the Cowboys for comment and a spokesperson for the organization said he didn’t have a response.

What Wilkins and her attorneys filed is a collective action lawsuit.

A collective action is unique to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which covers overtime wages, minimum wage, and the Equal Pay Act—her attorney told WFAA.

It’s a type of class action where people are only in it if they affirmatively join.

Which means if a judge grants conditional certification, recent Cowboys cheerleaders would be notified and could join the suit to seek damages.

Wilkins says she hopes other cheerleaders join her legal battle, and that America’s team needs a culture change.

“I want to make a difference for not just past or current members, but for future ones,” Wilkins said. “No one ever wants to speak out because they’re just so afraid of losing their spot.”

Earlier this month five former cheerleaders filed a lawsuit against the Houston Texans alleging that they were only paid a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and that they were not paid even that amount for many of the hours that they worked.

They also alleged that they were bullied and placed in fear about asserting their rights because they were forced to work in a hostile workplace.

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