A Buffalo Bills cheerleader’s lawsuit, filed by five former members of the Buffalo Bills cheerleading squad – the Buffalo Jills – is seeking unspecified back pay and legal fee reimbursement. The members say they were grossly underpaid, while at the same time subjected to “demeaning and degrading treatment.” The lawsuit identifies the plaintiffs by their first names and last initials only, because of concerns over reprisal.
According to Fox Sports on April 23, the lawsuit alleges that the pay structure set up by the Buffalo Bills organization equates into the Jills working many hours for free. Additionally, the suit complains of gross misconduct of a sexual nature, both by the public and by those within the organization. Cheerleaders from the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals also have pending suits regarding low wages.
Among the complaints voiced in the Buffalo lawsuit: Cheerleaders were mandated to make public appearances for promotional reasons, for which they were unpaid and subjected to drunk individuals groping at them and making sexually harassing comments, and they were made to pass what was called a “jiggle” test to see how firm their bodies were and how their breasts looked in a bikini top.
The suit also details how every aspect of their life was micromanaged – from their hair color, hair style, makeup, nail polish and what they could post on social media sites like Facebook. At public events, like charity golf tournaments, the cheerleaders were ''auctioned off like prizes'' and subjected to ''degrading sexual comments and inappropriate touching,'' says the complaint.
Reports Fox News: “The case against the Bills says its cheerleaders, the Buffalo Jills, are wrongly classified as independent contractors and are subjected to policies that violate the state's $8 per hour minimum wage law and other workplace rules.” The Jills’ attorney, Frank Dolce, spoke to the media at a news conference yesterday.
''We are Bills fans,'' Dolce said. ''We definitely want our organization and other organizations in the NFL to respect the rights of these cheerleaders.'' Former Jill Alyssa U., who says she was only paid $420 for the entire 2012-2013 season, said: ''Everything from standing in front of us with a clipboard having us do a jiggle test to see what parts of our body were jiggling… and if that was something that she saw, you were getting benched.''
According to USA Today, the lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, names the defendants as Stejon Productions Corporation, the firm which currently manages the Jills, and Citadel Communications Company, which formerly managed the cheerleading squad and currently owns the Buffalo 97 Rock radio station.
The CS Monitor gave further details on the suit, stating that one Buffalo Jill, Maria P., said she received only $105 in pay for the season. In addition, the Jills are made to pay for their own uniforms, which reportedly cost over $600. If the Jills are required to travel for mandatory appearances outside of the stadium, they are not reimbursed, says the lawsuit. Plaintiffs in this lawsuit include Jaclyn S., Alyssa U., Maria P., Melissa M. and Gina B.