Ex-Cowboys cheerleader sues team, says mascot was paid more than cheerleaders

A former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is suing the team, alleging that the team violated The Equal Pay Act and Fair Labor Standards Act and seeks "other available damages." 

According to WFAA-TV in Dallas, 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."

Wilkins also alleged that she made only a quarter of what the team mascot made. Wilkins says the most she made in a year was $16,516.01, while the Cowboys mascot, Rowdy, made about $65,000, according to the lawsuit.

"They're profiting off our images and our bodies that we work so hard to keep in shape," Wilkins said. "We put in so much work and not to be compensated fairly is really an injustice."

Wilkins stated that she and other Cowboys cheerleaders were responsible for that body maintenance on their own, while Rowdy had to do no such maintenance and was still paid four times as much. 

"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."

This is not the first time this offseason a cheerleader has sued the team that employed her. A fired New Orleans Saints cheerleader filed a suit against the team, alleging discrimination against women. A former Dolphins cheerleader said she was discriminated against after revealing her virginity. And a group of cheerleaders who worked for Washington alleged that the team "pimped [them] out" as personal escorts for wealthy male sponsors who were invited to watch a topless photoshoot. 

WFAA-TV reached out to the Cowboys about the suit, and a spokesman declined to comment. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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