Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, win ruling for better pay wages

The Buffalo Jills cheerleaders perform during the third quarter of an NFL preseason football game between the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Derek Gee)

(CNN) – The cheerleaders for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills were given the go ahead with their class action lawsuit against the team demanding better wages.

The ruling this week by a New York state judge allows “all Buffalo Bills cheerleaders and ambassadors since April 2008” to come together on the suit. Five former cheerleaders had originally brought individual suits against the team.

The cheerleaders’ lawyer, Christopher Marlborough, told CNNMoney that he is pleased with the ruling and “fighting for the rights” of all Bills cheerleaders who are making claims.

At the core of the case — and similar ones by cheerleaders for other NFL teams — is how they are categorized by the teams. The NFL teams have considered them independent contractors and not employees. As a result, they weren’t entitled to certain wage and workplace rights.

The suit claims that the Jills cheerleaders were paid below minimum wage and were required to attend unpaid events. The cheerleaders claim that at some of these sponsored events they were made to feel uncomfortable by male attendees.

They also say they were forced to adhere to strict dress codes and behavioral guidelines set by the team. The Bills controlled everything from their physical appearance to music selection.

In a statement, the Bills said they intend to appeal the ruling and continue to fight the allegations.

“It remains our position that this case is being prosecuted by a very small number of former cheerleaders whose allegations do not accurately reflect the sentiment of all cheerleaders,” the team said.

Tuesday’s ruling is the latest development in a push by cheerleaders and their lawyers against NFL teams.

The Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets have also been sued.

Raiders cheerleaders claimed they’d been paid less than $5 an hour. They settled in September 2014 for $1.25 million.

The Buccaneers also reached a settlement of $825,000.

Last July, California Governor Jerry Brown enacted a law stating that cheerleaders must be classified as employees. The act ensures that cheerleaders in California will at least get paid the minimum wage.

New York proposed a similar law to protect cheerleaders in June 2015.

CNN’s Jason Durand contributed to this report.

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