The Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, also known as the Buffalo Jills, are suing the team due to unpaid wages at games and mandatory public appearances, per multiple reports.
The Buffalo Bills cheerleaders are suing the team over unpaid wages.
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James Staas of The Buffalo News cites the example of Bills cheerleader Maria P., who quit the squad two seasons ago after all the unpaid hours she rendered.
Maria P. was especially apalled at how she and her fellow Buffalo Jills (the cheerleading team's nickname) were on the receiving end of "sexual comments and inappropriate touching" during certain team events such as the Jills' annual golf tournament, per Staas.
The Jills officially took the matter to court on Tuesday, according to The Buffalo News.
"As a result, she and four other former Jills filed suit Tuesday in State Superme Court in Buffalo against the Bills; Stejon Productions Corp., which currently manages the Jills; and Citadel Communications Co. (97 Rock), the Jills' former manager.
"While the focus of the lawsuit is the defendants' failure to pay them the minimum wage for all the hours they worked, the suit also cited their mistreatment at the Jills' annual golf tournament, where select Jills were required to wear bikinis and go into a dunk tank where they were dunked by tournament participants.
"They were auctioned off like prizes and had to ride around in golf carts with the winning bidders, the suit says."
According to WIVB.com's Alysia Rodriguez, the Jills "were unlawfully counted as independent contractors rather than employees." Because of this, they did not receive their hourly wage.
Former Jills member Alyssa U. told Rodriguez she and the rest of the squad were "the laughing stock" among NFL cheerleaders.
"We had always dreamed since we were little girls of becoming Buffalo Bills cheerleaders and unfortunately it was anything but a good experience.
"(She made us do) everything from standing in front of us with a clipboard and do a jiggle test to see what parts of our body were jiggling and if that was something she saw, then you weren't performing at all.
"We were the laughing stock of NFL cheerleaders. We deserve to be compensated just like everyone else.
"Going into it she made it pretty clear that we were not going to be paid and that this was an honor and a great hobby and all that and we didn't realize until later that was illegal."
An Associated Press report (via FoxNews.com) dated April 22 identifies the accused as Stejon president Stephanie Mateczun.
The Jills allege that Mateczun "controlled everything from their hair and nail polish color to what they could post on Facebook," the report adds.
Maria P.'s and Alyssa U.'s lawyer, Frank Dolce, said it's an issue about dignity more than it is about just compensation, per Rodriguez.
"Certainly they were entitled to compensation. So it is about money, but far more importantly it's about the dignity of how you treat a worker in this state and we have set minimum standards that need to be followed."
Rodriguez, who identifies the other plaintiffs as Jaclyn S., Melissa M. and Gina B., goes into greater detail regarding the lawsuit:
"It alleges that game performances, practices, rehearsals and appearances equaled '840 hours of unpaid work per woman, per year.' It also says the women each paid more than $600 for their uniforms and covered their own travel expenses, including hotel stays, during appearances for the team.
"They also paid for their own hairstyles, nail tights, lipstick, makeup, gas and more that were required by the Bills and appearances for the team."
The lawsuit is the third to be filed this by cheerleaders against an NFL team. The first two were the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals, per The Associated Press.
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