ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Five former Buffalo Jills are suing the Buffalo Bills claiming they were exploited, harassed and forced to work long hours with little to no pay.
The 27-page lawsuit seeks payment for the five women who are suing the team and the former and current management companies.
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The former Jills claim their workers’ rights were violated by the team, current manager Stejon Productions and past manager Citadel Communications.
“We were not getting paid at all. We were basically independent contractors, is what we were named,” said Alyssa U., a former cheerleader named in the suit.
They’re suing for the “unpaid balance of the full amount of minimum wage for all hours worked.” According to this lawsuit, that totals 840 hours, per woman, each year.
The case is gaining national attention. The issue of fair payment became a hot topic on “CBS This Morning.”
Gayle King asked Rikki Klieman, CBS News’ Legal Analyst, about the cheerleaders signing a contract and knowing what they were getting into.
Klieman said, “Well you may have known what you were getting when it means to go to the game, you didn’t know you were getting when it means doing dozens upon dozens of unpaid appearances and also to be subjected to, what we say today is, sexual harassment.”
These former Jills claim they were subjected to “the jiggle” test by Stephanie Mateczun. According to the lawsuit, Mateczun made at least one girl do jumping jacks, to evaluate “jiggle” in the stomach, arms, legs, hips and bottom.
Mateczun, the owner of Stejon Productions, did not respond to an email seeking comment.
“That’s way beyond the [mark] in 2014,” said Klieman.
Attorney Daniel Greene, from Connors and Vilardo, says it’s an interesting case.
“Well that’s another question for the jury. Even if you sign the contract and it explains what the terms are, once the Bills actually start dictating what you’re going to be doing or what’s expected of you, that may change the terms and that might be what the argument is,” Greene said.
This is the third lawsuit to be filed against an NFL team by former cheerleaders.
Greene said, of this happening in the future, “It may give people pause not just in football organizations, but everywhere, to more closely examine contracts signed, whether they are signing up to be employees or they are signing up to be independent contractors and what the terms mean. I think it’s important for the fact that people should pay attention to what they sign.”