A former press box hostess for the Indianapolis Colts has accused the National Football League of drastically underpaying her and “a dozen or more” of her co-workers and failing to document their hours worked, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Oct. 7 in federal district court in Indianapolis.
In her complaint, Colleen Fenstermaker said she worked part time in the team’s press box as a “hostess” of the team’s statistics crew from 1998 until Sept. 9, 2011, when the team allegedly fired her two days before the start of the regular NFL season.
The hostesses were responsible for passing out printed materials to coaches, announcers and other employees in the press box, as well as serving as the wait staff for all box attendees before, during and after the game.
For 12 seasons, Fenstermaker worked at least 10 regular and preseason games per year, plus any playoff games the team played at its home stadium, she said in the complaint.
Though each workday lasted eight hours or more, Fenstermaker alleges the team paid the hostesses only $40 in cash for the entire day. In 1998, when Fenstermaker started with the team, the daily pay rate was just $25, according to the complaint.
Fenstermaker alleges that the pay she and other hostesses were given is well below the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.75 per hour. Additionally, Fenstermaker alleges the Colts never recorded any of the hostesses’ time worked and instead allegedly paid them “under the table.” Both actions, she alleges, are violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Colts did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to court documents, Fenstermaker is seeking class-action status that would include other unnamed hostesses, in part because “some, if not most, of the individual group members may not be aware of their rights to wages under federal and Indiana law, or may not, because of financial means or experience, be in a position to seek the assistance of counsel to commence individual litigation.”
Fenstermaker has asked for an undetermined sum in unpaid wages, liquidation damages, attorney’s fees and other costs.