It looks like the Buffalo Bills will be playing without the support of their official cheerleaders this year.
On Thursday, Stephanie Mateczun, whose company manages the Buffalo Jills cheerleading squad, said that operations have been suspended for the 2014 season. The decision had been made two days after five former Jills filed a lawsuit in which they complained that they worked hundreds of hours with no pay and were subjected to groping and sexual comments.
The civil action had been filed in state Supreme Court and seeks unspecified back pay and legal fees.
The case against the Bills claims that the Jills are wrongly being classified as independent contractors and are subjected to policies that are in violation of the state’s $8/hr minimum wage law and other workplace rules.
The Jills have to make 20-35 appearances, most of which are unpaid, at charity and community events each season, and they also aren’t paid for games or practices, according to the lawsuit. If that’s not enough, they also have to fork over $650 for their uniforms, and aren’t reimbursed for travel, among other expenses.
All five cheerleaders stated that they had to take a “jiggle test” so that their physique could be assessed by Mateczun. They also said Mateczun controlled everything from what they could post on Facebook to their hair and nail polish color.
Lawyer Frank Dolce, who represents the five cheerleaders, said that he hopes the legal action that’s being taken in this situation leads to policy changes within the Bills’ organization that ensure future cheerleaders are treated more fairly and paid better.