Fans of U.S. football will recognize the name of the Orchard Park, New York- based football team: the Buffalo Bills. But the Buffalo Jills — the team’s cheerleaders — are about to be in an equally-as-bright spotlight. Five of the team’s former cheerleaders are suing the BIlls over unfair payment and mistreatment during their employment. 

The lawsuit is one of three filed against a team in the National Football League, according to NBC. The Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals are two other teams that have been involved in legal disputes over pay systems.

The women filing the suit against the Buffalo Bills claim that not only were they drastically underpaid, but they were sexually harassed and molested during certain events. They claim that most of their 25-30 appearances, including games and practices, are unpaid, and they have to pay their own expenses for travel and uniforms. All in all, many hours of work went without compensation. The wage dispute largely rests with claimed violations of New York state’s $8 per hour minimum wage requirements. 

The plaintiffs also claim that the state’s workplace rules were violated as the women were made to perform “jiggle tests” in which they were forced to jump up and down to have certain body parts critiqued by their superiors. They claim to have been groped and physically mistreated during events in which they were required to wear little clothing.

The lawsuit is looking to have the women reimbursed for back pay and legal fees, numbers for which have not been divulged. NBC quotes Frank Dolce, the attorney for two members of the cheerleading squad: “We are Bills fans. We definitely want our organization and other organizations in the NFL to respect the rights of these cheerleaders.”

As this is not the first of such lawsuits filed against NFL teams, it likely won’t be the last. Although, it is impossible to tell that — if the outcome weighs in favor of the cheerleaders — how great of an impact that will have on future treatment of professional cheerleading squads.


Further reading:

Labor & Employment Digest: May 2014

How to link employer work rules and social media policies 

Law firm files counterclaim in sexual harassment suit