Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders Sue Team Over Payment Practices
Suit says women worked hundreds of unpaid hours
Five Buffalo Bills cheerleaders (known as the Buffalo Jills) are suing the team over a failure to pay them in accordance with New York State minimum wage laws, allegedly forcing them to work hundreds of unpaid hours and subjecting them to degrading treatment--including a "jiggle test," which, unfortunately, is exactly what it sounds like.
One plaintiff told WGRZ that making the team was a dream come true, but the reality that shortly followed was a nightmare. According to the suit, the Jills are wrongly classified as independent contractors, and their pay routinely violates the state's $8 per hour minimum wage law. They're also asked to work games, practices, and dozens of charity appearances for free, as well as pay for their $650 uniforms and cover their own travel expenses.
It's the third suit this year filed by cheerleaders against a National Football League team, following pending wage battles with the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals.
"If you are under the control of an entity, we can call them your employer and you're an employee," Frank Dolce, the plaintiff's attorney, told WGRZ. "We don't want any hokey games as trying to portray somebody as an independent contractor to sidestep and avoid minimum standards that we have in our state."
Dolce added that the fact that the woman were asked to conduct themselves in accordance with team policies even when they weren't working undermined their classification as contractors. It allegedly went as far as controlling their hair and nail polish color, and what they could post on Facebook.
Beyond questions of payment, the suit describes "demeaning and degrading treatment" like being required to wear bikinis at an annual golf tournament where the cheerleaders were "auctioned off like prizes."
Plaintiff Alyssa U. (the plaintiffs are only identified by their first names and last initials) described the aforementioned "jiggle test" cheerleaders were asked to perform for Stephanie Mateczun, the president of Stejon Production Corp., which manages the Jills.
"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," she the Associated Press . "And if that was something that she saw, you were getting benched."
The suit against the Bills seeks unspecified back pay and legal fees, and also names Stejon along with former manager Citadel Communications Co.
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