Five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders sued the Buffalo Bills’ National Football League team over an unacceptable pay system. According to a CBS report on Tuesday, the women said that they had to work hundreds of hours for free at mandatory public appearances and at games. Additionally, the former cheerleaders – called the Buffalo Jills - are asserting that they had been groped and had received sexual comments during their time working for the team. One of the women said that they were subjected to “jiggle” tests so that their boss could see just how firm their bodies were.
This state Supreme Court lawsuit is the third of its type filed in 2014 by cheerleaders against their teams. Prior to the Buffalo Bills lawsuit, the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals have been sued as well. Like the Buffalo Bills, the two previously-filed lawsuits are also were about the women’s pay.
In the latest lawsuit against a football team, the cheerleaders claim that they are classified incorrectly as independent contractors and are thereby forced into policies that violate New York state’s minimum wage law and other workplace rules. New York’s minimum wage is currently $8 per hour. Frank Dolce, the cheerleaders’ attorney, appeared at a news conference on Tuesday with two of the suing women and said that they are Bills fans who definitely want our organization and other organizations in the NFL to respect the rights of these cheerleaders.
According to a Fox News report, the cheerleaders are not paid for games or practices, having to make 20-to-35 appearances – most of which are unpaid tasks at community and charity events each football season. The cheerleaders say are required to pay $650 for their uniforms. Additionally, they are never reimbursed for other expenses they incur, including travel expenses. The women say that the expense, the time, and rules governing their personal lives are much more than what they had signed for when they began the jobs.
The women say they were treated degradingly by having to wear bikinis at some events, including an annual golf tournament. They say they were auctioned off like prizes and received sexual comments and inappropriate touching. The women, one who claims she was paid a total of $105 for the entire season, say they hope their lawsuit will lead to changes in policies in the Bill’s organization.