The Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, known as the Buffalo Jills, are engaged in a lawsuit against the team for an unfair pay system and what they say are discriminatory practices.
According to their attorney, Frank Dolce, the cheerleaders have been made to appear at several events without being paid due to their wrongful classification as independent contractors, and that the team is in violation of more than one workplace law, including payment of minimum wage.
“We are Bills fans,” Dolce said. “We definitely want our organization and other organizations in the NFL to respect the rights of these cheerleaders.”
The women also say they were required to wear bikinis to certain functions and were subjected to sexual harassment as well. Their personal lives are closely monitored by team management, specifically Stephanie Mateczun, president of Stejon Productions Corp, which manages the Bills. Mateczun, they say, dictated everything from nail polish color to social media posts, and required the cheerleaders to show her how in shape they were before a game.
“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,” one cheerleader said in the document.
Mateczun has had no comment, and the Bills have not commented publicly on the lawsuit.
“I’ve been a Bills fans my entire life,” said a former Bills cheerleader in the lawsuit. “To be able to cheer them on in front of 80,000 fans was a dream of mine since I was a child. That dream was taken advantage of by the Bills.”
The team isn’t the first to be sued over cheerleader compensation; the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders are also accused of not paying a decent wage. It’s also not the first legal battle in recent weeks for the team; they were just ordered to pay up to $3 million to fans for over-texting messages about the team.
NFL team pays its cheerleaders $2.85 an hour and makes them buy their own uniforms. http://t.co/jyYllX4JRK
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) April 23, 2014
You won't believe how little professional cheerleaders are paid http://t.co/rmtbrzJ6k4 pic.twitter.com/sWzczFD7vM
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) April 23, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons