On September 24, 2015, former Milwaukee Bucks dancer, Lauren Herington, filed a lawsuit against the Milwaukee Bucks for its prolific wage abuse against her and her fellow “Milwaukee Bucks Dancers.” Amongst other things, Ms. Herington alleges that the Milwaukee Bucks required her and other Dancers to attend mandatory workouts, comply with an antiquated dress code and personal appearance policies and perform other work without any pay.
Milwaukee Bucks Dancers are required, as part of their work duties, to perform at home games, make appearances at corporate functions, charity events and other community activities, and appear in an annual swimsuit calendar and other photo shoots and publications throughout the season. They must arrive 2.5 hours before home game start times; practice 5-10 hours per week; and attend approximately 15-20 hours of mandatory workout sessions each week. Additionally, all Dancers are required to comply with mandatory fitness standards by completing designated workout programs verified by a Bucks-approved trainer and visit designated hair salons to comply with the Milwaukee Bucks mandated “Hair & Makeup Policy” – all without pay.
Despite all of these mandatory work requirements, the Milwaukee Bucks only paid Ms. Herington and other Milwaukee Bucks Dancers a flat rate of $65 per home game; $30 for practices and $50 for special appearances. As a result of the many hours Ms. Herington and other Dancers worked each week and the extremely low wages paid by the Milwaukee Bucks in return, Dancers ended up making far less than the required federal and Wisconsin minimum wage in most, if not all workweeks and were never paid overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a week. In other words, in contrast to the millions paid to players, the all-female Milwaukee Bucks Dancers make less than the typical starting wage of a Milwaukee Bucks concession stand cashier.
Ryan Stephan, one of the lead attorneys representing Ms. Herington stated, “The Milwaukee Bucks have exploited dozens of young women who dream of dancing professionally for the NBA by requiring them to effectively work for less than minimum wage or nothing at all. Moreover, the Milwaukee Bucks’ emphasis on physical appearance and almost round-the-clock mandatory workouts not only violates applicable law, but also sets a bad example for our youth.”
Ms. Herington seeks to recover unpaid wages and other damages under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Wisconsin State law for herself and other Milwaukee Bucks Dancers who have been similarly exploited by working long hours at sub-minimum wages. She also seeks to put an end to the abusive practices of the Milwaukee Bucks and instill positive changes for future generations of Milwaukee Bucks Dancers.
In 2017, both parties agreed to settlement.